Life and Death, powerful opposites in a world where it is so easy to just live our busy lives apart from others. We have the power to give life or death to those around us. As we pass from this month full of love and chocolates into a season of Lent where we ask God to search us fully, I ask you to truly consider if you use the power God has given you to give life to your circle.
We have the power to bring death into the lives of others. I am talking about more than just speaking harsh or hurtful things to others, although those words do indeed bring death. I am more referring to the lack of words of life in our relationships, the lack of love, encouragement, admiration, and care that is spoken in our daily lives to those around us in our circle of influence. In the absence of life, death can come to one’s self-image, emotional state, and your relationship with them.
Many years ago my husband and I took the test to discover our “love language”. His top love language came out as words of affirmation, that was, of course, my bottom love language. While I believe that we all need words of affirmation, I just did not know how to do this, how to affirm someone. To affirm someone takes humbling myself and raising them up to a place of praise and admiration, something that my sinful flesh struggles to do. You would think after almost 10 years of marriage I would be better at this, but no, if anything I am probably worse. Now instead of noticing the amazing gifts God has given my husband I see them as normal, used to him and what he brings to our marriage and family. After becoming so close to someone and living close to that person day in and day out, I dream that I would know them and the mystery behind who they are, and how to love and encourage them. Instead, I have allowed sin to creep in and have become annoyed and irritated by the failures.
God did not create us to live busy lives apart from one another, he created us for relationship, to know and to be known and to love in spite of our failures.
What if we could love those in our circle with God’s love, looking past failures and into the unique and amazing person God created? What if we could look at our spouse, our children, our friends, co-workers and neighbors with new eyes and speak words of life into their lives. How often do we pass on a chance to give someone a vote of encouragement, to notice them, to praise, or love them? How often do our busy lives and our selfish pride keep us from speaking out words of love?
Every day we move towards the cycle we have created for ourselves. We are creatures of habit, in our actions and in our words. What if we strived during this time of lent to change our words. To change the words we speak, or lack thereof, to words of life. What if we intentionally made habits to speak words of life into the lives of those who are in our circle? What if we did this so much that it became a way of life and a part of who we are? God calls us to a higher place, He has overcome sin, even the sin of death in our relationships, death in our words, He can renew our words and our relationships and restore them to what he intended for us.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
To be encouraged, loved, admired, isn’t that what we all seek in life? God created us for relationship, created us to love one another just as he has loved us. Let him be your model, let him teach you to love your husband, your children, and those around you. As we spend time with Him and allow Him to love us, we allow him to teach us to love others. We allow him to teach us how to humble ourselves and let his words of love shine through to bring life to others.
Changing our words from death to life will only happen if we take intentional action. The first steps of change are always hard, but as we continue to seek and follow Christ through our change, the results are rewarding. Choose now to change your habits and cycle, what words or lack of words are you going to cut out of your life, and what will you replace them with? What words of love and admiration will you make a habit to speak?
Some Ideas to Get Started
- Christ is our ultimate teacher in love, for God is love. Therefore, just spending time with him can get us started on a road towards life-giving words.
- Evaluate what words, phrases, and attitudes have become a habit in your life, pray over these areas and consider what changes you can make to move away from these habits of death.
- Consider what opportunities you miss to speak life into others, do you give them time to share their life, do you express empathy? do you encourage? allow space for mistakes? do you express love and admiration?
- Write down words or phrases you want to be part of your daily vocabulary, these may be different for family, friends, and co-workers as they are at varying levels of intimacy, but words of life and love can be spoken at all levels.
- Start small. With everything we tend to get stars in our eyes and bite off more than we can chew, take this one step at a time, start small. Small changes can be very powerful.