Living in a country where you don’t speak the language makes you think a lot about your speech. The other week I was attempting to tell someone how long I had lived here in Macau, China. I thought I said, “I’ve been here 8 months,” but when his response was, “Congratulations,” I knew something was lost in translation. As it turns out I actually told him I was 8 months pregnant–oh goodness.
I also see my speech show my age; when I ask my Chinese secretary, “whatcha doin?” only after to realize that what I said is not only slang but completely incomprehensible to a non-native English speaker. As young people we have to constantly make sure that our language is appropriate and also something that is intelligible, (why should our boss need to read on urban dictionary what we are trying to express?).
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus tells us that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So true! Whatever my heart is feeling that day seems to be how uplifting or discouraging my words are to someone. How easy is it for our words to harm rather than be encouraging? It’s amazing how many times I am tempted to do the wrong thing when it comes to my speech, especially to the people that mean the most to me. Satan must know that’s an easy place to get me.
So if our age can easily show through our speech so can our heart. Jesus was also talking to us in Matthew 12:34 and in 1 Timothy 4:12. Have you seen in the Gospels how the disciples are constantly bickering with each other? Even during the Last Supper they were arguing about who was the best! Jesus knew then, and He knows now how important it is for us to get a handle on how we think and what comes out of our mouths. That takes A LOT of prayer sometimes. People are built up or torn down by words of encouragement, words of affirmation, or simply reminding them of the words of Jesus and His love.
My experience has shown me that people in Southern Asia are desperate to learn how to speak the English language. They are obsessed with learning about American culture and everything it has to offer. But the best part about living here is seeing what happens when they find out about the best part of life they’ve been missing out on, whether they hear it in English or in their native tongue. When they are given their very first Bible, or they hear the Gospel for the first time their eyes light up and their smiles are SO wide. Our speech is very important, our words hold so much more power than we can ever imagine.
God’s words to us are clear–all through Scripture we are told of His great love for us. The love in His heart for you was shown in “the Word made flesh,” Jesus. In that ultimate expression of love, His living and active Word was fulfilled and our sins were forgiven.
The next time that annoying person in your class won’t shut up, or the person at your office who always bumps into you spills your coffee, and even when that jerk cuts you off in traffic–the fact that each of those people are loved and cherished by the same God who loves you makes all the difference. The way you respond to them and the words you use as you interact with them give a message. If your heart is full of God’s love it will overflow in how you think and then in how you speak. Let your speech resound from what is in your heart!