Sparks, Squabbles, Spats, and Such: Our Words Matter
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. – Proverbs 18:21
Editor’s Note: Words are one of the most powerful weapons we have. They can be a sharp sword or a soothing salve, both having the ability to change someone’s path in an instant. The upcoming holidays can be tough times for family gatherings – stirring up old wounds, unhappy memories, or encounters with toxic relatives. We pray that this week’s study will encourage, challenge, and equip you to use your tongue to bring life to your relationships this holiday season! Enjoy this video of the full session one of Karen Ehman’s Keep It Shut (our $5 Deal of the Month), and don’t forget that if you’re a Study Gateway subscriber you can have full access to all six sessions!
Watch the Keep It Shut Bible Study: Session 1 Video
As you watch, record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you based upon the outline that follows.
Words are powerful and they have consequences.
What starts as a little spark can become a booming blaze, as in the Colorado Black Forest fire of 2013.
James 3:2-12 tells us this about the tongue:
• It can corrupt our whole body.
• It cannot be tamed.
• It cannot pour out both what is bitter and what is sweet.
Luke 6:45 states that the mouth speaks what the heart is already full of. We need to learn to “mind our spillage.”
In our homes, often the problem isn’t how we talk about our family members but rather how we talk to them.
Our tongues are fire. From where will they be lit: above or below? Are our words a sword or a salve?
Let’s learn to pause before we pounce; to not say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.
Perhaps we need a “force quit” feature for our mouths.
Take a few minutes to consider what you just watched.
1. What part of the video teaching had the most impact on you?
2. Can you think of an example when, as a school-age girl, your words — or the words of one of your friends — caused drama? Describe the situation.
3. It has been estimated that women speak around twenty thousand words a day. That’s a lot of yacking! Brainstorm as a group the many areas of life where we use our words — both spoken and written. Ready? Fire away.
Small Cluster Discussion
If you’re going through this study with a group, consider breaking the group into smaller clusters. If you are working through this study by yourself, think about inviting someone else to discuss the questions with you.
4. King David penned the words to Psalm 15. Have someone read this psalm aloud to the group. In the space below, record as many observations as you can about what is mentioned about our words. Number them as well to see how many you can come up with.
• Our group’s observations:
• What do you learn from recording these particular words and phrases about the kind of person David says will “dwell on [God’s] holy hill” (v. 1 ESV)?
• Are there any guidelines you can draw out of this passage for how we can use our words wisely in the future? Can you think of a specific example that pertains to a current, real-life situation?
Gather back together as one large group and answer the following questions.
5. What is one insight you gained from the small group activity about Psalm 15 and the picture it paints of how we should use our words?
6. In the video segment, Karen described the Black Forest fire in Colorado in 2013. She also referred to James 3:2-6 and how in it James likens our tongue to fire. What insights did you get out of this analogy of fire? What similarities can you draw between the reality of fire and the effects of our words?
7. Karen talked about how her and her husband’s opposite personalities and different styles of completing tasks can cause conflict and clashing. Do you live or work with someone who either has a polar opposite personality or does things in a way you never would? Does this ever make you use your words in a wrong manner? If so, how?
8. In the video, we were encouraged to “pause before we pounce” — to not say something permanently painful just because we are temporarily ticked off. Give an example of a time when you paused and it prevented you from wounding with your words, or a time when you didn’t pause and you wish you had.
9. Time to flip your thinking! Instead of just “unloading” the next time you may be angry about someone’s actions or irritated at the way he or she approaches situations, give yourself a little pep talk while you pause and ponder. List some things you might say to yourself to avoid saying something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.
10. “Are your words a sword or a salve?” Ouch! What does this word picture bring to mind when you read it? Can you think of anyone you know whose words seem to be a salve instead of a sword? Give an example. How do you feel when you are around them?
Individual Activity: What Is God Saying To Me?
Complete this activity on your own
Take a mental inventory of your life. In what areas do you most struggle with using your words correctly? It might not just be that you use them in an angry manner. It may be that you don’t speak up when you should. Or you speak too much. Or you talk before really listening to the other person. Or you don’t speak the truth because you are afraid of what someone else might think. Perhaps you are a people-pleaser and say yes when you should say no, and then find yourself overcommitted and miserable. What areas do you need a little help with your language?
- Work situations
- Relationship with my husband
- Relationship with my kids
- Dealing with neighbors
- Extended family situations
- When talking with other parents
- At church
- Friendships (either longtime friends or newer ones)
- When dealing with people I see throughout my day: at the grocery store, the bank, the coffeehouse, etc.
- Other _______________________________________________
Now go back and note the one or two areas where you most feel God may be prompting you to change how you behave when it comes to your speech.
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Come join the conversation on our blog! Share your answers with us! We would love to hear from you about learning to Keep It Shut.