"The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21
Written words are easily edited by their author. They rest on paper or on the screen with cursor flashing. They sit silently while the author reads them over carefully checking for punctuation, clarity of thought, flow and sound. More words can be added or deleted from sight without the knowledge of their intended audience.
Spoken words are rarely edited. They flow like a river from the tongue of the speaker directly to those in the room without much thought. Spoken words are fluid with conversation, emotion and intent. They can never be "taken back," erased, deleted or edited after they are heard. Although they may seem invisible to the eye, they are as permanent as those etched with pen and ink upon the heart of the receiver.
Saturday, nine names stared up at me from my paper. They were the names of nine students who I had the privilege to teach, whose eyes caught mine several times a day, whose ears listened to my stories, whose hands I'd held when they were sad or whose feet followed me around the classroom. Each name represented one life created by God for a purpose and I had to write words that best described that child for their graduation ceremony. These words would not only be written in permanent ink, saved in scrapbooks as part of the child's academic legacy, but they would be read aloud to proud parents, adoring grandparents and to the child themselves. The words I chose would hold the power to speak life into each child or the power to destroy it.
As I wrote, an old Sunday school chorus repeated in my head: "Oh be careful little eyes what you see. Oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love so, be careful little eyes what you see." This song continued with "be careful little mouth what you say," then "be careful little hands what you do" and finishing with "be careful little feet where you go." As I hummed this silently in my head, I realized that what I wrote about each student would leave a lasting mark on their hearts. My words could influence how they see themselves, what and how they speak to themselves and to others, what they do in life and where they go. I chose my words carefully picturing them through God's eyes; perfectly made and lovable in every way.
Oh yes, they all have their faults. Don't we all? But their Godly potential is woven into every fiber of their being. It only needs to be drawn out and encouraged to thrive. Our tongues have the power to do just that. What we hear spoken aloud is indelibly written on our hearts so, be careful little mouth what you say.