|Proverbs 18:21 – “Words kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit – you choose.”
“Betty, Betty, Betty….Just how stupid are you anyway?” The voice on the other end of the phone was the president of the company where I worked, and I felt myself sink into my chair. Once again, he was belittling me and treating me like the scum of the earth. As a young single mother, I really needed this job, but the daily harassment was almost more than I could stand. His words were killing me, a little bit every day. Eventually my situation changed, and I was able to start work with a different employer. It wasn’t long before I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders and everyone (from the CEO on down) treated me with kindness and respect. Words of friendship and acceptance were shared between employees, and also when dealing with our customers. Many of my coworkers had been there for 20-30 or more years, and I certainly could understand why. The atmosphere was no longer poisoned with hostility and fear but filled with the sweet fragrance of respect and trust.
Many years have passed since then, but that memory remains fresh for me and serves as a reminder to choose my words carefully and to be aware of their impact on others. What is my response to clerks at the store or servers in a restaurant when things don’t go my way? When I am having a bad day, do I snap at the person ahead of me in line, or at my family when I finally get home from work, even though they are just innocent bystanders? Do I see how my words impact those around me, especially those who are younger or more vulnerable? Is the poison on my lips an outward sign of the poison in my heart?
Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for your Word that teaches us how to live more fruitful lives. Help me to watch my words, and to consider the consequences and impact of what I say. I want to reflect your sweet loving nature through my words to others. Let my speech be filled with words of hope, faith, and love. Amen.
– Betty Gossell