In my last two posts I’ve shared the impact of trust in relationships. Trust is a relational hinge and the loss of trust is often a matter of behavior or insecurity. Today I want to give you another major ingredient in healthy relationships: Wise Words.
Three passages of scripture reveal the power of words to shape relationships. Each of these passages reveal a powerful truth that can transform our relationships:
Words are the fruit of the heart that separate or satisfy relationships.
In Matthew 12, we read about an incident where Jesus casts a demon out of a man. When this happened, the crowd was amazed and began to ask if Jesus might be the Messiah. This put the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, on edge. Matthew 12:24-25a says:
But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts…
Jesus knew the thoughts in their heart that were driving the words coming out of their mouths. Then Jesus went on to explain how Satan cannot drive out Satan. Such an attempt reveals a divided kingdom. But Jesus, on the other hand, was driving out demons by the Spirit of God.
Then Jesus made an interesting transition. He raised the issue of blasphemy, pointing out that the only sin that could not be forgiven was blasphemy–not against the the Son of God–but against the Holy Spirit. He said:
“So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
Blasphemy is a sin of the mouth that proceeds from a hardened heart. It’s a sin of speaking against sacred and holy things, specifically, as Jesus points out, against the Holy Spirit. I’ll show you why this is significant in a moment. Then Jesus made an interesting analogy in verse 33:
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.
The tree in this passage represents the heart, and its fruit represents the words spoken from the mouth. The words we speak are formed out of our hearts. That’s why verse 25 says, “Jesus knew their thoughts…” The Pharisees’ words were the fruit of their hearts. Then Jesus said:
You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:34-37)
So get the picture. Jesus is casting out demons in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then the pharisees attribute Jesus’ work to Satan. So Jesus warns the pharisees that they are in danger of committing blasphemy because their hearts have grown so hard that they are speaking against the very One (the Holy Spirit) who has the ability to draw them to the Savior. That’s what the Holy Spirit does…He convicts and convinces us of our need for a Savior. I find it interesting that the religious leaders who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah were in danger of committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit whose chief responsibility is to lead people to the Messiah.
Jesus’ point is clear: Your words are the fruit of your heart’s thoughts. And in the case of the Pharisees, their words were proceeding from a hardened heart that was resistant to the convicting and convincing power of the Holy Spirit. And because the only sin not forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Jesus knew the Pharisees were treading on spiritually thin ice. Further Scriptures demonstrate the heart’s capacity for thought:
- Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost].
- Luke 2:19 (NIV) – But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- Matthew 15:19 (NIV) – For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
- Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Let me reiterate the point: Words are the fruit of the heart. So how do these words impact our relationships? According to Proverbs, words separate or satisfy relationships.
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:19-2 – NLT)
When we use our words to offend or to argue, we separate relationships. But when we use wise words, we bring satisfaction to relationships. The choice is ours. And our choice ultimately produces life or death in our relationships. Ephesians 4:29 also captures the power of words:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
The word unwholesome means foul. It’s actually a reference to rotten fruit. The apostle Paul was saying, “Don’t serve words to others that look, sound, and taste like rotten fruit.” Instead, speak wholesome words that benefit and build up others according to their needs.
So think about our big takeaway from Matthew 12, Proverbs 18, and Ephesians 4: Words are the fruit of the heart that separate or satisfy relationships. How does this apply to your relationships with your family, friends, boss, co-workers, employees, church members, and team members? Let me say it another way: Your words create the climate for your relationships. If the climate’s not healthy, change your vocabulary.
Question: What do your words reveal about the condition of your heart? Are your words bringing life or death, separation or satisfaction?