Words that Serve God or Self
As I listened to Paul David Tripp recently, I was struck by the idea that my words are never neutral. They serve either one of two entities—God or self. That is, my words either seek to further God’s kingdom, or my words seek to further my own kingdom (and, consequently, the kingdom of sin and Satan). At first, this dichotomy between my words serving either God or self seemed too sharp. Surely there are some neutral words. But then what Jesus said came to mind: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Lk 6:45, NIV). Additionally, I thought of Paul’s words in Romans 6. We are either slaves to righteousness or slaves to sin. There is no neutral there. My heart is not neutral—it’s either seeking God’s kingdom or my own kingdom. That means my words are also not neutral—they either serve God or serve self.
Consider these situations:
- When I speak to my co-worker or boss, are there times when I want them to thank me for what I’ve done, because no one saw my good deed?
- When I speak to my spouse, are there times when I want my choice to be the one we make, but I use the children or other people as the reason why “we” should make that choice?
- When I speak to my children, am I really just upset that they interrupted my relaxation time, but I use some “holy” excuse about them being disrespectful in order to vent my anger?
- When I speak about others in the church, do I feel good about myself by talking about their shortcomings?
So, perhaps this idea of our words not being neutral is another reason why we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (Jas 1:19). Being “slow to speak” means that we pause to consider what we’re about to say, asking ourselves this question: “Is this statement going to serve God? Or is this statement going to serve my self?”
When we realize we have used our words to serve self and not God, we should immediately confess and repent and then find a way to speak words that serve the kingdom of God.
We should seek to honor God with our words. This begins with realizing there are no neutral words. And we will be judged for every careless word we have spoken (Matt 12:36). “Careless” words are those that seek to serve self and not God. Ask God to help you today to honor him and to serve him with your words.
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