A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but when it twists things, it breaks the spirit

Proverbs 15:4

Oh, the power carried in one’s words. Each of us, at one time or other, has experienced the power which comes through others’ words. I remember the feelings of encouraging hope associated with the soothing and comforting words of a mother’s love; however, the dark and discouraging despair, which attacked me through the assault from vindictive words, is more prominent in my memory. Why is that?

Roy F. Baumeister, professor of social psychology at Florida State University, stated recently – Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones. Physiologically, this may be due to our brains processing negative events, words and thoughts in a different place than they process happy events, words and thoughts. As the negative are being processed, they are replayed over and over, in order to find as much meaning from them as possible. Psychologically, words have the power to stimulate genetic responses to fear, resulting in the production of stress. According to Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman[1], a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Clearly, Scripture places much emphasis on the power of words, both to encourage and uplift and to discourage and put-down. There are over 100 phrases and verses which focus on the hurting and the healing properties of one’s words. For example, Proverbs 12:18 shares with us – Idle talk can pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise can heal. And then, in Luke 6:45, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, teaches us – The good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart. Clearly, then, the healing power of the wise word appears to be greater for our souls and our physical lives, than the destructive power of hurtful words.

It is understandable that, when someone feels upset, angry, frustrated, there is a felt need to retaliate and to give hurt for hurt. However, this will accomplish nothing good and, in the words of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God’s anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.”Romans 12:19.

Beloved, it is important to recognize and honour Adonai’s role in our lives; it is He Who delivers the revenge for wrongs committed against others. Our very important task is to show love to everyone in our lives, even those who hurt us. This is the true test of a godly nature. The clear questions for each of us to answer – Do I have the strength, the fortitude, the wisdom to respond to a hurtful word with a soothing one? Do I have the wisdom and discernment to treat even my enemies with kindness and love? Do I?

CONSIDER: When was the last time you confronted a hurtful comment? How did you respond or react? Having read this teaching, how might you approach that occasion differently?

ACT: We all know how difficult it is to respond to hurtful words in a positive way. Understanding this process requires maturity and wisdom. What may each of us do, in order to reach that place, where Adonai Yeshua tells us to show kindness and love to scorn and evil rebuke?

PRAY: Beloved Abba, my Beloved Father, here on my knees before you today, I ask for your help in reaching that state of grace, where our Messiah asks us all to respond in loving ways, even to our enemies. Help me guard my tongue from evil and keep my heart pure from the host of evil thoughts which attack us each and every day. In the Blessed Name of Adonai Yeshua, I pray.

            May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.

[1] Newberg, A & Waldman, M, et. Al.  2012 Words can change your brain. Plume Publishing, New York

By heartformessiah

Dr. Michael Wodlinger is a Messianic Jew, living in Quebec, Canada. He has been a university professor and a rabbi of a Messianic Fellowship.

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