I know we all know this – words are powerful. Words can build up, or tear down. Indeed, Proverbs tells us:
‘The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.’ (Proverbs 15:4)
I have had a couple of instances of the latter in recent months, in which I have been left reeling and have had to spend time working through the hurt and pain. I have had to get to a place where I could humbly ask God ‘was there any truth in that?’ and then doggedly decide to let go of whatever I felt was not true. A very painful process – and one that was forced upon me rather than asked for!
What those rather tender and difficult moments have caused me to reflect once more on is the fact that Scripture tells us time and time again to prefer one another and build one another up. Everything in me had wanted to let rip, so that others got a piece of my mind – and a correction telling them what was wrong with their point of view! But I know that isn’t my place, and God gently reminded me that this following verse is still true for me:
‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.’ (Ephesians 4:29)
Whether I agree with what was said to me or not, it is my responsibility to ensure my response and my general approach to conversations is to check that I am encouraging those I am conversing with.
The same is true of writing. How often do you think purposefully about whether what you are producing will build others up and benefit them? When I write devotionals it is easy to see how this should work in practise – but I’m reminded to check again how often I have it in mind as I am writing. There are times when the writing is instructional: do I watch my tone? Am I ‘preachy’ and self-righteous or encouraging and gentle?
There are, of course, all sorts of other writing – many of which you are masters of and I am not! But, in all the various forms our writing takes, can I challenge us to think about how we build others up when we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? That is often the desire behind our calling to write, but how conscious are we of that during the actual writing process? How careful are we, when we are letting the words flow, to think about this intentionally?
Claire is a freelance writer and editor, mum to two gorgeous young children, pastor’s wife, worship leader and school governor. Claire’s desire is to help others draw closer to God through her writing, which focuses on authenticity, marriage, parenting, worship, discipleship, issues facing women today etc. Her books include Taking your Spiritual Pulse, CWR’s Insight Into Managing Conflict and Cover to Cover: David A man after God’s own heart as well as BRF Foundations21 study guides on Prayer and Jesus. She also writes a regular column for Christian Today as well as Bible study notes, and her next book, Insight Into Self-acceptance, is due out in October. She is currently working on another co-written book, Insight Into Burnout, as well as her own book Taking off the mask: learning to live authentically. To find out more about her, please visit www.clairemusters.com and @CMusters on Twitter.