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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Persuasive Words (Colossians 2.4)
Date Posted: February 16, 2021

Just to verify the facts, I looked at the web site of a brand name ice cream retailer. I was right! Ice cream comes in an infinite number of flavors and combinations. There is fat free, sugar free, dairy free, reduced fat, sorbet, light, yogurt, churned, ad infinitum (but not ad nauseam!). Words are like ice cream, they also come in all flavors and combinations. In fact, almost every great thought that has ever been communicated to another person has been conveyed with words. But on the other hand, so has almost every not-so-great thought. Today's devotional will take a look at a few of the [blank] words in the Bible.

“Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.” (Colossians 2.4). This flavor can be used for good as well as evil. Paul specifically and purposefully avoided misuse of this flavor combination. “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2.4-5). In another text, Paul warned of some who used "... smooth words and flattering speech" to "deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans 16.18).

Jacob, father of the twelve tribes, recognized that words can also come in delicious flavors. Of one of his sons, Jacob said, "Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words." (Genesis 49.21). One of the many proverbs of Israel says, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." (Proverbs 16.24). Of course, none could speak like our Lord; concerning His speech the people "...all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth." (Luke 4.22).

Words can be "good and comforting words," or, they can be "malicious words." (see Zechariah 1.13,3 John 1.10). Words can be "wholesome words," or, they can be "deceptive words." (see 1Timothy 6.3,2 Peter 2.3). In short, words can literally be what we make them. They are ours to use as we will and for the purposes which we desire. Words reveal much about us; they are indicators of spiritual realities. Jesus said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12.34-37).

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4.6). Knowing what to say is not always enough; knowing how to say it is equally as important. This is the salt that Paul threw into the mix. Too much salt and the food can make a person sick; too little salt and the food lacks flavor and is not palatable. Our challenge is to add just the right amount as we struggle to know how (not what, but how) to answer others.

Wrong choices at the ice cream parlor typically have little consequence (unless we repeat them over and over). Wrong choices in what and how we speak frequently have far reaching effects on us as well as on others. As David closed the 19th Psalm, he ended it with a perfect prayer for almost any situation; it is also the perfect prayer with which to close this devotional. It reads: "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).

Questions:

1. Why did Jesus say that we speak out of the abundance of the heart? Explain.

2. Are we responsible to any extent as to how our words affect others?

3. What did James mean when he said we ought to be "slow to speak" (James 1.19)?

4. Someone said taste your words before you speak them because they may be words you are forced to eat tomorrow. How can we avoid such embarrassment?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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