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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, July 11

Look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
—James 3:4-5

Words are very powerful. Effective communication has been known to bring together nations for the purpose of the common good and, on the other hand, ineffective communication has been known to start wars. This is why we must be careful of how we use phrases and terms, whether we are conversing candidly with someone or trying to lift a person's spirit.

As human beings, we know how great it feels to receive kind words from those we love. We know also the pain we feel when we are ridiculed by those same individuals.

Yet no matter how hard we try to express ourselves so that our words are both clear and caring, those words still have to be interpreted positively or negatively by the hearer. How often, for example, do we choose to interpret negatively a loved one's opinion that we don't want to hear? This fear of negative interpretation can even make us anxious about expressing our opinions at all.

One way to rightly use the power of words is to say what we mean and mean what we say. This is really an issue of truth. Words are born in the silence of the heart where God speaks. If we regularly take time to be silent and still, we will find that the words that are formed in us are true words. We will find that we handle these words with mindfulness. And those who hear our words will find their own lives fuller because of what we have said.

Words are powerful, and while there's always the chance that the words we speak will be misinterpreted, true words born in silence have the power to change the world.

God, you are the author of words and the creator of love. I ask that you take charge of my mind, my heart, and my tongue that I may speak with humility and compassion. Amen.