Take on a challenge

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, April 28, 2024

It’s a prayer that I pray and have prayed often: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” — Psalm 19:14.

It’s not for the weak of heart, though, because words can flow as easily as water spilling over a waterfall. James, in his New Testament epistle, went to great lengths to instruct about the seriousness of tongue bridling and word watching. 

When I consider this discipline of the tongue I always remember a sorority sister in college. Whenever a group of the “sisters” would gather, it wouldn’t be long until a bit of gossip would capture conversations, and too often others would join the conversations that never built up or turned positive. EXCEPT! There was one of our sisters that didn’t have much to say — the quiet type — but in such “headed south” conversations, she would always plant a positive word about the person in the bull’s eye. It might be something about his or her smile, a certain attractive physical characteristic or a talent they might possess.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Inevitably the conversation would either stop concerning that individual or others would add other positive comments. That sister of positive words made such a deep impression on my life that I still speak of her and her wonderful gift of positive words.

Let me offer a test — one that I’m in the process of trying to implement. As you speak, ask God to show you your negative words like complaining, whining, griping. Are there any that confess as I do that such words can find a home in our vocabularies? Then there are those words we don’t want to believe are a part of our conversations — words like slander and malign and disparage. Are we guilty of such word attacks?

Some might love the brotherhood of believers enough that they would never attack them, but what about political leaders who live lives opposite God’s standards and who discredit morality? Easy targets for disparaging comments — right? No, the Bible makes it clear: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity” — 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Now for a harder test. None of God’s children would approve of being a gossiper, but have we ever listened to gossip, assuring ourselves that we would never repeat it? Even listening to words that suggest judgmental attitudes or criticisms affect the “meditations of our hearts.” What if God shared details of our lives with others?

I recently read that a habit takes 21 days to break. Will anyone accept the Twenty-One Day Word Challenge with me? No toxic, negative, critical, slandering, unkind words for three weeks — that’s the challenge. With God’s help and available strength, no more stinky words from me!

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.