Exchange Words—Out with the Venom, In with the Honey
by Rhonda Rhea
Every time I’m reading something and find someone has misused words, I literally have a cow. (Literally? See what I did there?)
Of course, I know it’s hypocritical of me to have any kind of “beef” over someone else’s word blunders (and yes, I’ll try ease up on the cow quips—moo-ving on). Personally, I’ve discovered the best way to proofread something is to click “send” first. Only then are you completely free to see the big, fat, glaring mistake.
With the last book manuscript I sent in, I included a note to my editor at the publishing house that read, “You’ll probably catch some errors in this thing. Mark my words.” Editorial humor. You know, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I sometimes wonder if my editors ever wish I’d send more pictures.
At least I never sugarcoat my words. I might dunk them in coffee. But sugarcoat? Not really, no.
Then again, sweetness isn’t a bad thing when it comes to our words. We read in Proverbs 16:24 that “Pleasant words are a honeycomb; sweet to the taste and health to the body.” Sweet, yet apparently no calories! “Health to the body.”
There’s something delicious about words that build others up. Words of wisdom. Words of grace. Words that bless. Words of truth. Words that display and pass on the love of Christ. Becoming a true follower of Christ changes the way we choose our words. Because Jesus changes the heart from which each word flows. Our words reveal what we’re made of. Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 12:34 that “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
Without God’s power transforming our words from the inside out, our words are exactly what you’d expect Jesus-less words to be: death. Paul tells us just how sweet the words of the unredeemed aren’t. “Their throat is an open grave; they deceive with their tongues. Vipers’ venom is under their lips” (Romans 3:13). Is there such a thing as anti-honey? Ick.
We’ve been redeemed from that snake-poison life. That means we get to embrace our calling to get rid of the nasty venom and let the Lord sweeten our speech and make our words count. Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:29, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (HCSB).
Anytime we find bitterness, negativity, maliciousness, lying or any kind of sour, foul words coming from our mouths, that’s our signal something is off in our hearts and it’s time to give it anew—heart, mind, words, all of it—to Him. We need to exchange words. No, not argue. Trade. Replace the venom with the words of sweetness the Lord gives.
O Lord, fill us so completely with You—with Your grace, Your love, Your sweetness. May that sweet grace cover every word we speak, by Your strength, for Your glory and for the building up of Your Kingdom.
Words of grace. Even when people misuse the word “literally.” Yes, grace all day long. Until the cows come home. (I know, sorry, I thought I only had one more of those. I must’ve mis-cow-culated.)