IF YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL, YOU WILL DESTROY THE ONES YOU LOVE, WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT. HERE’S HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOU ARE, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
OK, I agree, the title of this episode is a bit weird. I mean, who really WANTS to destroy the people they love?
But the sad fact is that all of us do thing, say things, and neglect things that wind up being hurtful to the people we love the most – our families. And the way that I see people destroy their loved ones more than anything else is not what you might expect.
- It’s not through physical violence.
- It’s not by neglect.
- It’s not by harmful teaching or education.
- It’s with words.
When I was a kid there was a taunt we said to each other in an attempt to console ourselves when harsh words came our way. It was, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” It was and still is, a lie. Words can do at least as much lasting damage as any stick or stone. I still remember hurtful, untrue, vengeful things that have been said to me. Even trial things come to mind sometimes and give me reason to doubt myself, become discouraged, want to give up. I’m sure you have some similar experiences.
Words are powerful, powerful tools for both good and evil.
The Bible says:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21)
Death and life – those are two extremes, two different points on a continuum. One is what we all want, the other is what we all fear. And words have the power to produce both.
So here’s a point I want you to ponder, as a spouse and as a parent.
DO YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR WORDS HAVE THAT KIND OF POWER? Do you recognize that your spouse and your children can be given life by your words, or that they can be destroyed by your words? That’s a lot of power, for good or for evil. Let me ask you a follow-up question:WHAT KIND OF EFFECT ARE YOUR WORDS HAVING? Would the people in your home, your spouse and your kids, say that the typical type of words that come from your mouth are life-giving? Or would they say that what typically comes out of your mouth is destructive? Are the kinds of words you typically use words of encouragement, affirmation, or equipping? Or are they typically critical, negative, and pessimistic. Look at yourself, right now. Look at the relationships in your life. I’m not pushing this so hard because I want you to feel badly about yourself. I’m pushing this because every one of us is prone to self-deception. We don’t see ourselves realistically. We don’t really see how we truly effect others. I want you to step outside the bubble of self-deception and see yourself realistically.There are two reasons I’m encouraging you toward this kind of clarity about yourself…
#1 – You’ll be able to see yourself realistically SO THAT you can go to God in true sorrow over what you’ve done and what you’ve become. I know, that’s a pretty heavy thing to say. But I say it that way for a reason. The Apostle Paul says it this way,
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Sorrow, or grief over what you’ve done and who you’ve become, is the first step toward change. It’s where you have truly come to grips with your own sin and the damage it has done. Once you are there, you are ready to go on to the next step… #2 – You’ll be able to go to God in repentance. Godly repentance is where you take your sorrow to God, asking for forgiveness and the power to change. It’s where God takes your broken and contrite heart and begins to work His miracle of transformation in you as a person. So, here’s the real question…
HOW DO YOU FIND OUT THE EFFECT YOUR WORDS ARE HAVING?
You have to ask the people who are most affected by your words. You’ve got to be brave enough to ask your family members for their honest, nothing-held-back assessment of your words. If you do, and if they’re honest, you’ll see a real picture of how your words are impacting them. When you do, make sure you respond well. You asked for the honest assessment and they were brave enough to give it, so make sure you use it to truly move toward godly sorrow and true repentance. Use their loving criticism to move toward becoming a source of life for them.
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