Everyone told Vincent Van Gogh, “You only have one ear so you cannot be a great artist.” And you know what he said? “I can’t hear you!”

Seriously, there is a saying: “Actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes that is true but often words carry a lot of weight as well. What happens when someone you love says something very hurtful or harmful? He or she doesn’t need actions. The words sting enough.

If Jesus walked on earth today, he wouldn’t go straight to his phone and post on Facebook, “Let me tell you what this person just did…” When Jesus came across sinners, he gave them warnings laced with love and affection, and then told them to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

It’s not what people say or do to us that matters; it’s how we react. We should let the Holy Spirit guide us in how to respond to others’ actions and words.

Correcting with love, sympathy, and empathy goes so much farther than abusive language and condescension. There is a vast difference between lovingly rebuking and destroying someone’s self-esteem and self-worth through harmful words.

There is so much power in what we say. Imagine if you used that power for good and not evil! Imagine if someone who messed up and knew you were mad could tell by your words that you were disappointed but loved them anyway and forgave them.

Dear Lord, help me to hold back my words and actions until I seek your Holy Spirit’s guidance. Teach me to respond to those who hurt me the way Jesus responds to me when I mess up and hurt him. Let me use my words for good and healing, not evil or revenge. Amen.

Go Deeper — Pay close attention to your words and reactions today should conflicts arise. Do you tend to react in retaliation or in the Spirit’s love?

Read FurtherEight Tips for Fights Between Friends.

Tags: The Gospel of Luke Luke 12
Photo Credit: JL Magata