Why Your Words Matter

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” – Proverbs 18:21 (Msg)

Words are powerful.

Over the last year I’ve been working hard to lose weight and get into shape. So far I’ve lost 59lbs. It has been one of the most concentrated, brutal, and fulfilling experiences of my entire life. Many in my life have been very encouraging of my progress with comments like:

“Dude, you look so great!”

“Seriously! What are you doing, skinny?!”

“You look awesome!!! What an inspiration!”

But others have not been so supportive:

“That’s a great start. Just between us, though, you probably still need to lose another 30-40lbs. Just sayin’.”

“I wouldn’t throw away my fat clothes if I were you. You’ll probably gain most of that back.”

“Your face doesn’t look as oily or greasy, but you still have a lot of belly fat. Maybe if you work harder you’d look better.”

“59lbs, really? You still seem pretty husky to me.”

“I don’t think you’ve lost that much weight.”

“It’s too bad you had to lose that much weight. Gluttony is just as much of a sin as murder in the eyes of the Lord. I’ll be praying you don’t go back to your old sinful ways.”

Here’s what I realized about the power of words:

As much as I remember the compliments, I remember the criticisms so much more.

From the looks of it I remember them more by a ratio of 2:1. Probably because they cut twice as deep, like Crocodile Dundee’s knife in the jawbone of an australian saltwater croc. It’s sad this is true about me. It’s even more sad this is true of most people I think. We  hurt each other so much.

What we say to people matters. I’m culpable of having spoken hurtful words to people. Most on accident, but some on purpose. We’ve all been there. I think the key is to make sure our compliments outweigh our criticisms by at least 2:1 (or more). That’s the kind of math everybody can get behind.

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One comment

  1. The tongue is a restless evil, James says. I am astonished that anyone would say those things to you, and yet…i know that it is true.

    Speech is one of the most difficult things to get a hold of, perhaps because it is such a heart generated thing. If you want something, you say it, if you need something, you say it. Sometimes those needs and wants though are unhealthy things like “:i want to feel better about myself (the non-exerciser who feels bad that I am overweight and still haven’t even put down the potato chips much less gotten off the couch like you have), so I have to put you down (and that way I will be superior) to do that”

    And what tumbles out of your mouth without any real thought is some put down. I don’t even think that a person who says that has even thought about the inner thoughts of the heart but if a man speaks from the heart then you have to ask “Why did you say that?” Often, more often than I like to admit, the answer is not a complimentary one on my character.

    Do a follow up on this….or several.

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