These days, talk is cheap, but it lands with amazing expense. If you’ve ever doubted the biblical word on the tongue being a fire (James 3:5-6), you need only check your preferred social media stream to see the ongoing conflagrations being kindled minute by minute. The world is more connected than it’s ever been, and thus we have more opportunities than we’ve ever had to wound others with perhaps our most devastating weapon.

In a world of spin and marketing, self-promotion and self-pity, Facebook comment sections and Twitter mobs, we are drowning in a typhoon of words poorly used, carelessly cast, angrily angled. When words are many, transgression is certainly not lacking (Prov. 10:19).

But it’s not just “out there” that these fiery attacks take place. Nearly anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time in any church can testify to the hurtful application of the tongue, even by brothers and sisters, even by Christian leaders. How subtle is this spiritual fire!

I’ve been on the receiving end of some very hurtful words. Some were meant to hurt, others did so unintentionally. Churchfolk can be very simple and unassuming, and at the same time absolute ninja warriors with the verbal daggers. Gossip, passive aggression, backhanded compliments. If you haven’t been outright attacked by malicious speech in the context of Christian community, you’ve likely encountered one of those deceptively subtle kinds of attacks.

As a Christian leader, I’ve discovered that my words have hurt others entirely apart from my intention! Words I meant as light-hearted struck others as demeaning. Words I meant as inspiring struck others as intimidating. Words I meant as warnings struck others as condemnations. Not all offenses should be taken, of course, but a lot more could be avoided if we were all more on guard about our words.

Our words are indeed a stewardship. They can hurt . . . or they can heal. They can tear down, or they can build up. They can bring condemnation, or they can announce forgiveness. They can deliver bad news, or good.

Let us take care, then, as believers in the holy word of Christ, to make sure our words are sensible and well-seasoned, positioned more to build up than to tear down, and careful and cheerful, that we might adorn the word of grace and give the best impression to others of our kind Savior. Our words carry weight. May this weight be the weight of glory.

In an age where talk is cheap, let’s consider the cost of what we say.

How does God's Word impact our prayers?

God invites His children to talk with Him, yet our prayers often become repetitive and stale. How do we have a real conversation with God? How do we come to know Him so that we may pray for His will as our own?

In the Bible, God speaks to us as His children and gives us words for prayer—to praise Him, confess our sins, and request His help in our lives.

We’re giving away a free eBook copy of Praying the Bible, where Donald S. Whitney offers practical insight to help Christians talk to God with the words of Scripture.