“Words are things, I’m convinced. You must be careful about the words you use.” –Maya Angelou
In his book, The Fourth Dimension, the magnetic pastor David Paul Yonggi Cho talks about a fascinating lunch meeting with a famous neurologist. The neurologist thinks he’s impressing Cho with some ground-breaking discoveries in neurological studies at that time, circa 1979: The speech center in your brain controls your entire body.
The doctor tells Cho, “When you speak things about yourself, such as, ‘I’m getting so old,’ your body responds to what your mouth is saying. People who talk this way are more likely to die young because of the proclamations their own mouths are speaking over them, even if they’re joking.” He goes on to say the same is true for all kinds of negative things people tend to say about themselves: “I’m just a sickly person.” “Cancer runs in my family, so I’ll probably get it some day.” “I can’t ever lose weight.” “I’m poor.” “I’m so depressed.” “I’m dog tired.” “I look ugly.” “I’d rather just die!”
Uh-oh… Do you hear yourself in these statements?
Cho laughs and says, “I knew that already!” Indignant, the doctor smugly insists there is no way Cho could know about this cutting edge information because it’s a brand new discovery in neuroscience. Cho tells him, “I heard it from Doctor James!” then he quotes these verses:
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:3-6)
The neurologist’s head deflates a little.
After reading Cho’s book and all that he has to say about the power of words, my husband and I made a pact with each other: We only let words of life–words that are positive, uplifting, affirming, full of love, hope and faith–come out of our mouths. Is it always easy? No. Have we been perfect at it? Uuuummm, no. But is it worth the effort? An emphatic yes. Since making this pact, the atmosphere in our home–and in our lives in general–has taken a dramatic turn for the better.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” –Genesis 1: 3-4
Here’s the incredible thing about what happens when you choose to speak only life words to your family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers: You produce a crop of positivity and blessing not only in the lives of those who hear your words, but in your own heart, as well. I can’t explain it other than to say that your entire life perspective begins to change. Suddenly, the blinders that sometimes keep you from seeing the upside of your circumstances or nice things about other people fall away, and miraculously everything in your world lights up because of the uplifting things you keep declaring over your life and over others.
Quite interesting when you go back and look at Genesis, where we read that God spoke the universe into existence, huh?
So you might be asking yourself, “What exactly does speaking only life words look like? What does it sound like?” I’ll give you an example:
No doubt you hear the never-ending chorus of voices in your ear telling you to work your rear end off to earn enough money for things like a bigger home, entertainment, travel, wardrobe, and retirement. First World Problems, right? So when money is tight, not many people will blame you if you start to panic and bark like a rabid dog about how crummy your circumstances are, how hard your life is, and how fearful you are about your future. In fact, it probably won’t take you long to find a bunch of cronies just chomping at the bit to commiserate with you.
But is that speaking life?
What if instead of complaining or diving headfirst into a cesspool of negativity, you choose to be grateful for what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t? What if instead of panicking, you draw strength from looking at what’s good in your life? Or better yet, determine to trust God to supply your needs in His perfect timing? The words we use in situations like this often set the course for our responses, and our responses can set the course for outcomes.
“Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.” –Maya Angelou
Job 22:28 tell us this: “You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; and light will shine on your ways.” (NASB)
So what are you “decreeing” over yourself and your circumstances? What are you decreeing about your family? Your spouse? Your children? Your health? Your job? Challenge yourself to only “speak life,” and I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly a bountiful harvest of good stuff will grow from your words.
Need help getting started? Just google “speak life challenge” and you’ll find that many people are discovering the value and importance of speaking life words over themselves and others, and you can even enroll in a specific challenge if you want accountability.
Let’s start a revolution with life words!
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