Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
There is an anonymously written quote from which all of us can take a valuable lesson: “Words are powerful; speak wisely.”
Many of us are guilty of saying things to get our points across without thinking about the consequences of what we are about to say. Our focus then is on our sole aim for speaking: to tell someone off just because, to hurt someone just to get back for a deed we felt was unfair, to show off how “big and bad” we can be, or just to be mean-spirited.
However, we must remember that once words have gone forth, they cannot be taken back. Hurriedly trying to give someone “a piece of your mind” can bring about unimaginable consequences. Therefore, think before you speak because your words can have tremendous power to help or to harm.
As we listen each day to the political ads, some of them are so vengeful that they make you want to turn off the television and find something else to do. On some days, that is what my husband and I do. They come one after another with almost no letting up. It should not take all of this to let someone know that you are the best candidate for the job. The more powerful an individual is, the more some people will listen to and follow his words, good or bad. Good words have the power to bring about unity; whereas, bad words encourage division and unrest. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 ESV)
We have to be very wise in our choices of words because saying damaging things about others can come back to harm us or our future generations. The Word declares in Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV), “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Therefore, when you speak, remember that your words can have tremendous destructive or constructive power. You choose the results that you desire to bring about.
This anonymously written illustration, “Wranglers and Stranglers,” serves as an excellent example of the overall point in this message. It’s simple, yet powerful!
“Many years ago, there was a group of brilliant young men at the University of Wisconsin. The group of men seemed to have an amazing creative literary talent and were extraordinary in their ability to put their literary skills to their best use. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other’s literary works.
“These men were merciless while they critiqued one another. They dissected the minutest of the expressions and offered tough, and even mean, criticism to each other’s work. Their meeting sessions became arenas of [destructive] literary criticism, and the members of this exclusive club called themselves the ‘Stranglers.’
“Not to be excluded for the opportunity to level up their literary skills, the women of literary interests in the university started a club of their own, one comparable to the ‘Stranglers.’ The members called themselves the ‘Wranglers.’ The members of this club, too, presented their literary pieces in front of each another. But the feedback from the members was much softer, more positive and more encouraging. Every effort from a member, even the feeblest one, was encouraged by all.
“After 20 years, a university alumnus was doing a study of his classmates’ careers when he noticed a huge difference in the literary accomplishments of the ‘Stranglers’ and the ‘Wranglers.’ Among all the brilliant young men in the ‘Stranglers,’ none had made any significant literary achievements, but the ‘Wranglers’ had several successful writers and some renowned national literary talents.
“The talent and the education between the two groups were almost the same. There was not much difference. The ‘Stranglers’ strangled each other while the ‘Wranglers’ gave each other a lift. The ‘Stranglers’ created an atmosphere of contention and self-doubt while the ‘Wranglers’ brought out the best in each other.”
This definition explains why the women’s club was called “Wranglers”: “In North America, a ‘wrangler’ is someone employed to handle animals professionally, especially horses, but sometimes other types of animals as well” (Google.com). There is one word within this definition that shows how the “Wranglers” were so different than the “Stranglers.” You be the judge.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, stay safe, get involved in righting the wrongs of social injustice, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at email@example.com)