Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragment to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29, NLT
It had been going on for days. Constant bickering. Name-calling. Arguing. The two had been fighting like toddlers. “She hit me.” “Well, he was making fun of me.” In the car on the way to dinner. In the car on the way to church. At the dinner table.
As they got up to put their dishes away, I was finally done. I didn’t raise my voice, just simply said: “The next time either of you says anything mean to one another, you lose electronics or something fun. This is getting exhausting, and it’s sucking the soul out of me.”
It was. Quite literally, sucking the life out of me.
Think about it. Think about the people in your life. Think about the ones who you have a strong desire to spend time with. What is it about them that makes you want to be around them? Is it obligation? Sometimes that can be it. Family can be in this category. Co-workers. Friends even. Some of those may be have-to’s. I am talking about the want-to’s in your life.
I would imagine these people are “feel-good” people. People who make your soul feel good. Who put a smile on your face. Who make your heart jump for joy. The conversations you have are probably filled with good things. They are probably encouraging. You don’t talk about others, and if you do, it is probably to talk about how to help others, not to tear them down. These are the people who consistently use positive words. Kind words. Words to build up. Life-giving words.
What about the others? You know who I mean. The life-suckers. Being around them takes a considerable amount of emotional energy. Your conversations usually consist of talking bad about people, or gossiping. Sometimes you may even feel like you are trying really hard to put a positive spin on everything they say, and much of what you hear is a problem, and not a solution. You do not feel good when you leave these people. Sometimes, much like I did at the dinner table with my kids, you can’t wait for the conversation to be over; and you find you want to spend less and less time with them. You may even need days to recuperate.
Do I think there is a such a thing as too much positivity? Yes, certainly. Being positive about everything, and just not being vulnerable and honest can at times be toxic. But if every word that comes from your mouth is an onslaught of criticism, doom and gloom, and humdrum, hurtful language, take it from the mom at the dinner table-to the person hearing it, it’s soul-sucking.
And the Bible is clear about this as well. It mentions how words can be harmful or beneficial to the hearer, and the health of the hearer. In Proverbs, Solomon mentions words a handul of times, and mentions how words can either be positive for one’s health, or not so. For instance, in Proverbs 16:24, Solomon states, Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. In contrast, in Proverbs 15:4, he mentions that a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Safe to say…your words have great impact.
You can turn on the TV. Open social media. Walk down a sidewalk or a school hallway and hear enough bad language and crude remarks to grow weary, so I wonder at times why our every day conversations continue to also be filled with them. And certainly, I cannot be the only one simply exhausted by it. Crushed in spirit even.
Perhaps it’s time to think about which person you are in any given conversation. Are you the one people can’t wait to talk to? Or are you the one people can’t wait to leave? Consider this from Proverbs 18:20, another message about our words: Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. Personally, I want others to leave my presence satisfied by what they heard. Full of the Spirit, and full of love. Not leaving, and desiring to leave a bad review about the “poor service” they received. How about you?