What kind of trail do you leave with your tongue? What size wake is left by your words?
The dictionary defines a “wake” as “a trail of disturbance left by the passage of something.” It is the potential turbulence we leave behind when we have passed through a place, situation or engaged in a particular interaction.
Nothing causes more unsettling and dangerous wakes in other people’s lives than our words. Angry words, insulting, demeaning words, insinuating words, unkind words, words of judgment, critical words, side and snide comments, sensuous, flirtatious words, gossipy words, profane, dirty words, chats that become unhealthy chatter, and the like — these have a horrible and destructive impact far beyond what we can imagine.
The Bible is very clear about the demonic, hellish nature of an untamed, undisciplined tongue:
” … the tongue is a small thing … But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole body on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” — James 3:6, 7 (NLT)
How much damage is done every day by words? How many hearts are broken, how much productivity is lost, how many relationships are scarred, how much conflict and dissension is ignited and fueled, how much potential is robbed, all because we fail to rein in an unruly tongue?
The Apostle Paul wanted to help us avoid such destructive wakes that come from our words. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he gave us a simple instruction to live by that will save us from a lot of pain and keep us from generating terrible turbulence with our tongues. Take a look at what he had to say:
“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” — Colossians 4:6 (NLT)
“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” — Colossians 4:6 (Msg)
Think about the wake left behind by your words. Make a decision that your comments and conversations with others will always be gracious. Determine that, instead of leaving a trail of turbulence, you will pave a pathway of blessing with your words!