The words that you speak can be helpful or harmful—they’re just like cash in your pocket.

Suppose someone unexpectedly slipped ten crisp new $100 bills in your mailbox today. How would you spend it? It’s likely you would carefully consider how to make the most of your windfall. Perhaps you would invest it for the future, pay off a bill, or take a long-awaited vacation.

I don’t think you would use the cash to start a fire and burn your house down. Yet careless and hurtful words accomplish much the same thing. “A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire” (James 3: 5-6, NLT).

Words can convey ridicule, disdain or even humiliation. If you want your relationships to grow and be healthy, you must protect them from hurtful words.

Here are some One Things you can do today to make the right impact with your words:

  • If you know your spouse has been on the receiving end of hastily-spoken, unkind words from you, apologize.
  • Ask your spouse if your words, or the tone of your words, have been hurtful, and be willing to accept his or her perceptions, even if you have been misunderstood.
  • Think about some of the words you’ve heard that have damaged you, perhaps from childhood, and ask God to heal you.
  • Choose to speak encouraging words to your children that affirm them in pursuing their God-given dreams and aspirations.
  • Meditate on how Christ loves your co-worker, and how He would speak to him or her, His beloved child. Try to be just as loving and tender in all you say.

Your relationship will be wonderfully enriched as you learn to live this prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

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