Full disclosure – I have a tendency to absolutely swear like a sailor. I’m on a journey with Jesus about it; I’d appreciate your #thoughtsandprayers. I know the power that words have had over my life. Whoever said “words will never hurt me” has never felt the metaphorical stabbing of that stick in your back after hearing a word of gossip against your character or felt the throbbing pain after the rejection stone hits you in the face as someone you care about says “you’re not good enough/not good looking enough/too much/insert insecurity here.” Words have broken my heart and I know my words have cast just as many stones. Christ have mercy.
Through abiding deeper and closer with Jesus, the Holy Spirit continues to speak to me about the disposition behind the words I speak to others far more than the actual words themselves. The Lord challenges me to think on where my words come from: do my words overflow from a disposition to gain something for myself? Or do my words come from the overflow of my heart resting in love with Abba, seeing and loving my neighbour as an image bearer of God?
When I read Jesus’ words in John 10, I’m challenged to consider what language I’m speaking. The Holy Spirit asks me, “Am I speaking the language of the enemy and the thief? Or am I speaking the language of the King and His Kingdom to bring life in those around me?” And this goes far beyond whether I’m using four-letter words in my conversations with others. There’s an invitation from the Lord to use my words as means to proclaim abundant life with Jesus.
And thanks be to God I’m constantly learning a new language in Christ. God cemented this challenge in my heart that’s been transforming how I speak to others: “it’s my goal for everyone to walk away from an interaction with me with more courage” (Banning Liebscher). Discouragement steals, kills, and destroys both a person’s identity and purpose, but encouragement has the power to literally put courage into a person’s identity as a child of God and their purpose in God’s Kingdom to see all things made new.
And that’s what I imagine the language of the Kingdom sounds like and how I have experienced the voice of the Lord speaking to me – it sounds a lot like speaking courage to pursue deeper, abundant life with Jesus. And that sounds pretty d*mn good to me.