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Change Your Words, Change Your LifeUnderstanding the Power of Every Word You Speak
By Joyce Meyer
FaithWordsCopyright © 2012 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.
The Impact of Words
Therese was a fabulous worker, friend, and colleague. Everyone in her office loved her—from her bosses to the cleaning lady. She always had a kind word for everyone. One of her best assets was her amazing ability to help people feel good about themselves. She could make someone whose feelings had been hurt feel like they were the best thing since sliced bread. She could make an insecure colleague feel like a genius. Her sense of humor always lifted others’ moods and made them laugh even if they were annoyed or unhappy. Not only that, but she was smart—very smart. In her five years on the job, she had received three promotions, and her employer had recently told her that she was on a fast track toward a management position. If things continued the way they were going, she could even expect a vice-presidency within just a few years.
One evening while working late on a project, she discovered that her boss had made a bad judgment call in a speech that he had written and asked her to edit. He had included a foolish joke that some could find offensive. Therese picked up the phone to leave him a voice mail and tell him her thoughts. “What were you thinking, boss?” she said. “Don’t you know the CEO will hate that joke? And he has no sense of humor.”
Unfortunately, instead of sending the voice mail to her boss, Therese inadvertently pressed a button that sent the voice mail to everyone in the company. The next morning, chaos ensued. While Therese wasn’t fired, she didn’t get that next promotion—or the one after. The push of a button had sealed her future at the company.
That’s an extreme incident, but there are many others today that have far greater consequences. Children no longer tease one another; they bully each other, and bullying isn’t an exception among students—it’s the norm. It doesn’t just happen at school or play; it happens on the Internet, too. In fact, a new word has entered our vocabulary: cyberbullying. Facebook is now sometimes used as a weapon.
Never in the history of the world have words been so cheap, quick, irrevocable, and viral. Through cell phones and the Internet, we now have texting, e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition, we have radio, television, and printed media. Words are flying around in the atmosphere like never before. As of June 2010, 77.2 percent of all Americans use the Internet (267 million people). One quarter of the world’s population is online. Forty-one percent of all Americans actively maintain a profile page on Facebook, which generates one billion pieces of content every single day. U.S. awareness of Twitter has exploded from 5 percent in 2008 to 87 percent in 2010, and by now the figures are even greater. In 2010, more than 17 million Americans used Twitter and the average number of “tweets” per day in the United States alone was 15.5 million.
Obviously, there are good uses of all these forms of communication; however, there are many disturbing consequences, including online bullying that has led to teenage suicide, identity theft, child safety risk, pornography addiction, and ruined careers. Job applicants lose out because of Facebook accounts of bad behavior; workers send ill-advised e-mails before thinking.
People have destroyed relationships by typing their most secret thoughts in e-mail and then pressing Send before realizing how revealing the message was. Owing to the information available today, personal privacy has all but vanished. Sadly, anyone can say anything about an individual—whether it is true or not—and it is out there floating around in cyberspace just waiting for someone to access the information. People’s reputations have been destroyed by what others have said and yet their words held no truth at all. You might say that we have a “word explosion” going on, and we have yet to see what damage will be caused by it unless people learn the power of words and make a commitment to use them in a godly way.
We Eat Our Words…
I am sure you have heard someone say, “You are going to eat those words.” It may sound like a mere statement to us, but in reality we do eat our words. What we say not only affects others, but also affects us.
Words are wonderful when used in a proper way. They can encourage, edify, and give confidence to the hearer. A right word spoken at the right time can actually be life changing.
A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!
We can literally increase our own joy by speaking right words. We can also upset ourselves by talking unnecessarily about our problems or things that have hurt us in relationships. Not too long ago I had a disappointing situation take place with someone I considered to be a close friend and I noticed that each time I talked about it, I would have a difficult time getting it off my mind for the remainder of the day. I finally realized that if I wanted to get over it, I was going to have to stop mentally and verbally going over it again and again. People kept asking me about the situation out of genuine concern, but I ultimately realized that I had to answer, “It is better for me if I just don’t talk about it.”
The words that come out of our mouths go into our own ears as well as other people’s, and then they drop down into our soul, where they give us either joy or sadness, peace or upset, depending on the types of words we have spoken. Our words can even oppress our spirit. God desires that our spirit be light and free so it can function properly, not heavy and oppressed.
When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed. Our words are not forced on us; they formulate in our thoughts and then we speak them. We can learn to choose our thoughts, to resist wrong ones and think on good, healthy, and right ones. Where the mind goes, the man follows. We could also say, where the mind goes, the mouth follows!
You don’t even have to be talking to someone to increase your joy with your words. The mere confession of good things is enough to cheer you up. I have written a great deal about the power of confessing God’s Word out loud, and I will continue to do so because it has been one of the most helpful things I have done in my life.
When you get up in the morning, if there is something you need to attend to that day that you’re not looking forward to, you can say, “I dread this day,” or you can say, “God will give me strength today to do whatever I need to do and to do it with joy.” Which of these two statements do you think would better prepare you for the day?
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,” says Proverbs 15:4 (NKJV). According to scripture, God has given His children a new nature, and we are taught to daily renew our mind and attitude. Having a positive outlook on life and speaking positive words are two of the most wholesome things we can do.
From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good.
A good man eats good from the fruit of his mouth.
A man’s [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].
So Choose Your Food Carefully
Anyone who wants to be healthy is careful to choose quality food that will provide good nutrition. If we want to be healthy in our soul and spirit, we should also choose to take in words that will build us up and increase our peace and joy. As we have seen, we eat our words, and we can rightfully say that they are food for our souls.
The world is filled with bad news. Turn on any news station or buy any newspaper or news magazine and you will find it filled with reports of murder, theft, wars, famine, and all kinds of horribly tragic events. And although these things are prevalent in the world today, I do wish with all my heart that we had some “Good News” stations and newspapers. I believe there are many good things happening in the world and probably there is more good than bad, but the evil is magnified in a way that often seems overwhelming. Although we may want to know what is going on in the world, we should not have a steady diet of “bad news,” but we should choose to read, watch, and talk about good things.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for someone else to cheer us up! We can do it with our own words by what we choose to talk about. I recently walked into a room and heard a group of people talking about several businesses that had recently filed for bankruptcy. Then they mentioned two others that they had heard were going to file for bankruptcy. I felt a gloom hanging in the atmosphere so I said, “Well, God is not bankrupt and He is on our side.” Immediately the atmosphere changed and everyone agreed with me.
I am not suggesting at all that we deny reality, but we can choose what we want to talk about. If we are not helping ourselves or anyone else by rehearsing all the bad things going on in the world, then why fill our conversation with it? I realize we are going to talk about conditions in the world to a certain degree. We want to be well informed of what is going on. There is no wisdom in being ignorant and taken by surprise, but to talk about it excessively or with no purpose merely creates a gloomy atmosphere that nobody will enjoy.
Thinking About What You Talk About
We talk a lot and quite often pay no attention to what we are saying, let alone think seriously about the impact of our words. I want to encourage you to take some time and think about the types of things you usually talk about. What kind of conversation do you enjoy and participate in? If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that some of our bad moods are directly linked to our conversation. Even some of our problems can be linked to bad choices we make about what we say. As we progress in this book, you will learn that words have so much power that they can actually create circumstances in our lives. For example, if a man continually says, “I can’t control my appetite,” he’ll believe he can’t, and therefore he won’t control it. If a woman says, “I will never have any money or own nice things,” she may end up living far below the level that God desires for her simply because she won’t even try to do better. We believe more of what we say than we believe what anyone else says to us. This is very important, so I want to repeat it: You believe what you say more than you believe what others say to you. Think about it. When someone compliments you when you’re wearing a dress that you don’t particularly like and you’re having a bad hair day, do you believe her? Or do you believe that little voice inside that says, “She’s just being nice, because you don’t look good; you look terrible.”
If we say a thing often enough, silently in our hearts or verbally, we will believe it whether or not it’s true. And the Bible teaches us that we receive what we believe. All of God’s promises are received through believing them. Actually, believe means “to receive,” and receive means “to believe.” Believing and receiving are like conjoined twins. The two cannot be separated. What we believe becomes our reality!
It would be a wise exercise to take a little time at the end of each day and think about what we talked about that day. Certainly anytime we are feeling a bit gloomy, we should ask ourselves immediately, “What have I been talking about?” Our words don’t cause all of our problems, but they do cause a great deal of them and they should be given a good deal of consideration when we are looking for answers to the problems we encounter in life. We all have challenges in life, but we can make them better or worse by the way we talk about them.
What kind of conversation do you have around the lunch table at work? While riding to work in the car pool? Chatting with friends at a social gathering? Why not decide each day before you even go out of the house that you are only going to talk about things that benefit you and everyone who hears you? Since we have the power to make our day better, we would be foolish indeed if we didn’t do it.
Let me clearly say that I don’t believe we can change all of our circumstances into pleasant ones by making positive confessions, but I do believe many of them will change according to God’s will. I only want to teach you to be in agreement with God and learn to say what He says. For example, God would never say, “This bad circumstance is too much for me; it is just too hard and I am going to give up.” You might be thinking right now, “Well, of course God wouldn’t say that!” So then why do you? God is in control, not us; however, we can cooperate with His will or hinder it by agreeing or disagreeing with His Word. One thing is for sure: Speaking negatively could hurt you, but speaking positively never will, so why not go with the positive and see what kind of results you get?
Seedtime and Harvest
In the Bible we learn the principle of sowing and reaping. Beginning in Genesis, God teaches us that as long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest. We can readily understand how a farmer sows seed and waits for his harvest, but we need more understanding about what I will refer to as “spiritual seed.” We can see a tomato seed with our eyes and understand the process of planting and expecting a harvest of tomatoes. We cannot see attitudes, thoughts, or words, but they are also seeds that operate in the spiritual (unseen) realm and they also produce a harvest based on what was planted.
If a person continually sows negative thoughts, attitudes, and words, he will produce many negative results in his life. Likewise, if he sows positive, life-filled thoughts, attitudes, and words, he will see good, positive results. Jesus said that His words were spirit and life (see John 6:63).
As I have already said, our words affect us as well as the hearer. They touch our soul and spirit and can produce a harvest in our physical body. For example, if someone said something very hateful and mean to me, it would affect my emotions and mind, which could in turn cause sadness to appear on my countenance. Likewise, if someone says something uplifting and encouraging to me, it affects my mind and emotions in a positive way, putting a smile on my face, and often I can feel a flow of extra energy coursing through my body. We are energized by positive words and weakened by negative ones. Words can make us angry or they can calm us down; therefore, they must have power.
A speaker was talking about the power of positive thinking and the power of words.
One of the audience members raised his hand and said, “It’s not saying ‘good fortune, good fortune, good fortune’ that will make me feel better. Nor will saying ‘bad luck, bad luck, bad luck’ make me feel worse. They’re only words and by themselves have no power.”
The speaker replied, “Shut up, you fool, you don’t understand a thing about this.” The audience member was stunned. His face became red, and he was tempted to reply, “You @&&#!!&&&#@!” [something I can’t say in this book].
The speaker raised his hand. “Please excuse me. I didn’t mean to upset you. Please accept my most sincere apologies.” The member of the audience calmed down. Some people in the hall murmured; others shuffled their feet.
The speaker resumed. “There’s the reply to the question you asked me. A few words made you very angry. The other words calmed you down. Now do you understand the power of words?”
I would like you to seriously consider the following scriptures, for they also show us the power of words:
For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.
So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
In God’s Word we are taught a very important principle: The same as natural seed produces a harvest, so does God’s Word. When He speaks it, or we speak it as His children, we will see a result based on the type of seed we have sown. Very simply put, if I talk about lack, sickness, things I am angry about, and problems most of the time, then the “word seeds” I am sowing will actually produce a harvest of more of the same. On the other hand, if I choose to talk about provision, health, forgiveness, God’s goodness, and faithfulness, I am sowing seeds that will produce a good harvest according to the seed I am sowing with my words.
A farmer doesn’t plant a tomato seed and expect to get broccoli, and we should not plant word seeds of bad things hoping to get a good harvest. Once we truly understand this principle and act accordingly, we can change our words and therefore we can change our lives.
I want to close this chapter with a story that I will never forget, told by a friend of mine.
One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”
I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend on Saturday afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran into him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to a private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.
We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend, and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.
Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.
On graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. As he started, he cleared his throat, and began, ”Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach… but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”
I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.
Never underestimate the power of your words and deeds. With a few kind words, you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.
Taming Your Tongue
Can you or I tame our own tongue? According to the Bible, it is impossible, so why even try? The truth is that we cannot do it without God’s help, but with God all things are possible, even the taming of the tongue. I lean and rely on God every day to help me control my mouth and what comes out of it. The psalmist David prayed a lot about his words. He made decisions not to sin with his tongue, but he also relied on God for strength to follow through. He said, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3b). “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). “I said, I will take heed and guard my ways, that I may sin not with my tongue; I will muzzle my mouth as with a bridle while the wicked are before me” (Psalm 39:1). “Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). We can see from these scriptures that David was exercising his free will and being determined not to sin with his tongue, but at the same time He leaned on God to bring it to pass.
We can have right desires, and when we do, it pleases God and He goes to work on our behalf helping us follow through with right actions. I suggest that you study the Word of God in this area. Find out everything you can about what God’s Word says about the mouth, the tongue, and words. I also suggest that you begin to pray specifically about these areas, asking God daily to help you. When you recognize that you have sinned with your mouth, take it seriously and be quick to repent. Taming the tongue is no small task, but it can be done, although never without God’s help on a daily basis.
When I first heard teaching about the problems that can be caused by not taming the tongue, I was convicted of sin, and determined to change. I went home from the church service where I heard the teaching and had a plan to keep my mouth shut and just not talk. I reasoned that if I didn’t talk, I couldn’t get into trouble with my words. Of course, that plan didn’t work because it was extreme and had nothing to do with God’s will. People asked me what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t talking, and my thought was, “You are not happy when I talk because I say the wrong thing, and now you’re not happy that I am not talking. I can’t please people no matter what I do!”
God wants us to talk, and that is why He gave us a mouth. Godly communication is a beautiful thing, and words used properly do a lot of good. God’s plan was not for me to say nothing, but to learn how to tame my tongue with His help. I had a plan to go home and try to do better, but I had left God entirely out of the equation. Anytime we think we are going to do anything apart from Him, we are a failure waiting to happen. Even when we want to do God’s will, we still can’t do it without his help.
We need to always pray first and then wait for God’s plan. Never make your own plan and expect God to bless it. I should have left the church service and said, “God, I am convicted of sin by the message tonight. I know that I have not bridled my tongue and that I have caused a great deal of trouble by not doing so. Please forgive me, Father, and help me change. Show me what to do and help me do it so my mouth can be a blessing and not a problem. I ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen!” Had I done that, I might have saved myself a lot of trying, failing, and being confused.
One of the things we should pray about each day is asking God to help us speak right things. Our words are very important, and they should be used for God’s purpose. We should desire to be a mouthpiece for God, speaking His Word faithfully.
If we are not careful and prayerful, we can unwittingly become a voice for Satan, allowing him to speak things through us that bring harm and hurt to many people. We may be good people who would never do such a thing on purpose, but it can happen if we don’t understand the impact of words and how much we need God’s help in taming our tongue.
A Tiny Spark Can Start a Raging Fire
Margaret loved to play the piano, and there was nothing her husband, Richard, enjoyed more than settling into his easy chair and listening to his wife play. Once or twice a week after dinner, Margaret would sit down at the piano and play. Sonatas, waltzes, and the couple’s favorite tunes would fly off her fingers, and sometimes Richard would sing along.
When Richard developed serious heart problems, he was forced to retire, and Margaret became the sole breadwinner for the family. She worked long hours, often coming home at eight o’clock at night to prepare dinner, do the dishes, and go right to bed.
One night at dinner, Richard looked over at the piano and said to Margaret, “I miss hearing you play the piano.” Margaret snapped, “And when might I have time to do that?” Richard said nothing. Margaret instantly regretted her retort, but she didn’t apologize; she’d go back to playing the piano for Richard again as soon as she could get her job under control and start coming home earlier.
Margaret never got the chance to do that. She came home from work a few weeks later and found Richard lying on the basement floor. He’d had a heart attack and was dead.
Now that Richard was gone, Margaret couldn’t bring herself to play the piano.
What a sad story and vivid example of the wildfire that just a few words can ignite. If Margaret could take back those few sarcastic words she said in a moment of annoyance, I’m sure she would. But it is too late. How she wishes she had tamed her tongue while she had the chance.
Fortunately, most of us will never find ourselves in a situation like Margaret’s.
Most of the time, lessons learned aren’t as costly as hers was. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Let’s look at how we can prevent our tongues from sparking a fire.
Nine verses of scripture found in James 3:2–10 are a powerful foundation for learning how to tame the tongue. Let’s explore them together.
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.
If it takes a perfect mouth to make a perfect man, I am sure that none of us will fully accomplish it while we are here on earth. It is our job to press toward the mark of perfection, and yet the Bible teaches us that we will not attain perfection until Jesus, the Perfect One, comes to take us to live with Him for eternity (see I Corinthians 13:9–10). We can grow, we can change, and we can do better and better. But if we obtained perfection in our behavior, we would no longer need Jesus—and that is never going to happen. We can have perfect hearts toward God by fully wanting His will and doing all that we can to work with the Holy Spirit toward that goal. God sees our heart, and I believe He counts us as perfect even while we are making the journey toward perfection. I am very grateful that God sees our hearts and not merely our performance.
If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about.
Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.
The bit in the horse’s mouth is a tiny piece of metal attached to the bridle that will force the mighty horse to turn in any direction that the rider determines. It is a little thing compared to a horse, which could weigh as much as 3,830 pounds. That’s right! Although it is unusual, one horse actually weighed that much, and was controlled by a tiny piece of metal. The bit actually puts pressure on the horse’s tongue, which I think is amusing since God is using it as an example to teach us to understand the importance of the tongue.
The next example is a mighty ship. Some ships are ocean liners and can be city blocks in length, yet they are steered by a rudder that is very small in comparison to the huge ship. The message to us is that our tongues and the words that roll over them are powerful enough to give direction to our entire lives. A great deal of how our lives have turned out so far is a result of our words in the past or words that were spoken to us. It is comforting to know that I can change the direction of my life by changing my words, just as a horseman can change the direction of his horse or a ship’s captain can change the direction of his ship.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze!
And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).
A few words spoken may not seem like a big thing, but the Bible compares them to sparks that start huge forest fires. We have heard reports of millions of acres of forest destroyed owing to someone throwing a lit cigarette on the ground. Such a little thing, but it caused terrible destruction. Do our words really have that much power? If we are going to believe God’s Word, then we must believe that they do.
According to these verses, the tongue is very wicked and depraved if it is not controlled by God. It is set in the midst of our members (our body) and actually has the power to contaminate the whole body and set things in motion that bring devastating results. It can be used by Hell itself to bring about things that only Satan would desire.
Thankfully, there is another side to this story. Through God’s help, that same little tongue can be turned toward God and used for His great purposes on earth. It can be used to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do great harm to Satan and the Kingdom of Darkness. It can be used for many good things, and even the bad things it has been used for in the past can be turned around for good. We can always overcome evil with good (see Romans 12:21). Get started right away speaking good things and you will start seeing change.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature).
But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness!
Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.
I have seen television programs showing how men have trained animals to do amazing things, and they always intrigue me. It is amazing that we can train a wild and dangerous animal to jump through hoops of fire, and yet we cannot tame a tiny thing like the tongue. However, as I said earlier, all things are possible with God, and when we get serious about taming the tongue, God will get serious about helping us.
Let’s be determined to eliminate the mixture that comes out of our mouth. We may go to church and sing songs of praise to God, and then go to lunch and slander the very people we sat in church with. I can remember doing this myself, and I am sure I am not the only one. I didn’t know any better when I did it because I had never had this kind of teaching. But now that I do know and you know, we are responsible to work with the Holy Spirit toward positive change.
I have learned that being a teacher of God’s Word gives me an even greater responsibility in the area of taming my tongue than other people. I cannot have God’s Word coming out of my mouth while simultaneously allowing Satan to use it for his dirty work, too.
Not many [of you] should become teachers (selfconstituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation].
This verse precedes all the others we have discussed about the mouth in James 3. There are many types of teachers in the world. Bible teachers, Sunday school teachers, grammar and high school teachers, college professors, and parents are teachers. I have a trainer at the gym who teaches me to exercise, and I would not be very impressed or likely to listen to her if she didn’t exercise regularly herself. We all expect those that are teaching us to do the same thing they teach us to do.
God taught me this lesson in a very strong way several years ago. I came to a place in my teaching ministry when I really felt that God’s power (anointing) was not on what I was saying, and I was very concerned about it. I finally set myself to seriously seek God about the situation, but after three days, I still had no answer. I was talking to Dave about it, and he said that he felt God had showed him what was wrong. Well, I am sure you know that I was not pleased that he thought he knew what was wrong with me, and I immediately became defensive. Dave didn’t argue with me at all, but he simply said, “This is what I believe God showed me, and you can take it or leave it.”
Dave asked me if I remembered saying some negative things to him about another preacher’s style of preaching, and I said, “Well, you agreed with me!” I still wasn’t ready to be accountable. Dave said, “Yes, I did agree, but I am not the one who is preaching and I am not having a problem.” Ouch! After about a half day of being stubborn, I finally settled down, and one of the first places the Holy Spirit led me to in God’s Word was James 3:1–10, which speaks about teachers being more accountable than others in the area of their words. When I finally realized what I had done, I was extremely sorry and felt I had learned a good lesson. I regret to say that a couple of years later I did the same thing again and I immediately felt the loss of God’s power on my preaching. That time I didn’t have to search for the reason because I remembered my previous lesson. I immediately repented and have tried to be very careful ever since then to never critically judge someone else who is preaching God’s Word.
Not only was I doing what I was teaching others not to do as far as speaking words of criticism, but I was speaking against another person called by God to preach the Gospel—and that made it even worse.
Teachers beware! Please receive this as a word of caution. If you are going to teach others, you must meet a higher standard than those who are not teachers. We will be judged by a stricter standard and with greater severity. This does not relieve others of their responsibility, but it does place a double responsibility on those of us who teach because of our position of leadership.
Learning to Say What God Says
When my youngest grandson was nine months old, I started working with him daily trying to get him to say “grandma.” I said it over and over, and he laughed. I wanted him to mimic me, and even if he didn’t get it perfect, I wanted to hear him say “grandma.” I wanted him to say what I was saying! After several days, he finally did say his version of “grandma,” and even though it sounded a bit like a grrrr with a ma at the end of it, we all got very excited. This has helped me realize how thrilled God must be when we finally start saying what He says.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthian Christians that they were carnal and immature and that they didn’t know how to talk yet.
1 Corinthians 3:1
However, Brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!].
I have always found this scripture fascinating. We know that they could talk, so what did Paul mean? He meant they didn’t talk right. Their conversation didn’t agree with God’s Word.
If we want to walk with God, we must agree with God. If my husband and I are trying to take a walk together and I am pulling in one direction while he pulls in another, we will be frustrated and not make much progress. Likewise, we cannot pull against God’s direction and expect to enjoy life.
Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed?
Many people walk together every morning or every evening at a set time. They have made an appointment and agreed to walk together. Why don’t you let the reading of this book be the time you agree to walk with God fully by learning to say what He says? God has a very good plan for each one of us, but we will never enjoy it unless we learn how to say what He says about everything.
Everyone who considers himself to be a believer in God would say that he wants God’s promises to come to pass and be a reality in his life. Yet many believers say the opposite about their life of what God says in His Word.
For example, many people say they feel guilty or they feel unloved, yet God says that He loves us everlastingly and unconditionally. Too often we talk about how we feel or what we think instead of talking about what God’s Word says, and if that is the case, then we need to change.
Jesus is the High Priest of our confession (see Hebrews 4:14). He works for us to bring God’s will to pass, but can only work so far as we agree with God in what He says. Our confession is merely what we say, and Jesus works accordingly. If I told one of my children that I was going to give them a wonderful party for their birthday this year, I would expect them to be saying the same thing that I said. If they said, “No, you’re not,” that would make me think they didn’t trust me. If I continually heard them say, “I doubt that Mom will come through and give me a birthday party,” I might just decide not to do it after all. The power of agreement is amazing. When we agree with other people, it increases our power tenfold, so just imagine what happens when we agree with God.
The Written Word of God
The Bible is God’s Word written down for us so we can learn and meditate on it. God wants His Word to become part of us, and He wants us to guide our lives according to it. His Word is truth, and it is filled with wisdom. It is full of life and power.
The psalmist David, who ultimately became a king, greatly valued God’s Word. Many of the Psalms that he wrote talk about the importance of God’s Word, and Psalm 119 is one of the best. David begins this Psalm by saying that we are blessed if we order our conduct and conversation in the law of the Lord. He is literally saying we need to do what God does and say what He says.
Dorothy, an eighty-nine-year-old woman, lives in a nursing home in upstate Vermont. Diabetes and arthritis have robbed her of both her vision and her ability to walk. When her niece Irene came to visit her from out of state, she expected to find her aunt depressed and distressed.
Excerpted from Change Your Words, Change Your Life by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
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