Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Dec. 4, 2002. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
Part of a minister’s prayer struck me with particular significance this week.
“Lord, help every word I say today bear good fruit.”
Although the tone of the prayer had to do with the day’s sermon, I thought its content offered much for each of us in our daily lives.
The fact is, every word we speak does bear fruit — of one kind or another. Unfortunately, much of the time, that fruit is bad. A negative remark that discourages someone. A put-down. An off-color joke or story. A sarcastic comment that offends someone.
Much has been said and written about the power of words, but we still don’t seem to remember what we know about the power of what we speak.
What would it take for you to make a commitment to spend one entire day speaking only words that bear good fruit?
How much would it change your discussions at work breaks, at lunch or at home with your family?
Would you have to spend more time not saying anything at all, because all you can think of is something negative?
It could be a good exercise in discovering some underlying feelings we have toward others.
I think most of us want to avoid insincere compliments and glib chatter.
Engaging in meaningful, fruitful conversation takes more work. We have to think before we speak. It’s effort that pays off, though. If for no other reason, watching what we say lets us go to sleep with peace of mind. I’ve often been so thankful for words I didn’t say, and so often felt miserable and suffered dire consequences for things I did say.
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What kind of fruit do we want our words to produce? I think more than ever before we need to speak words of hope. Times are tough. People are losing jobs. Money’s tight. We may be facing a major war. In these days of impending darkness, our words can be beacons of light that help people continue to move forward.
People need to hear words that inspire them to accomplish meaningful pursuits. Someone may need an extra push to take the step to go back to school, enter a job training program, go for marriage counseling, take a new job. Sometimes, all it takes is that one extra boost of confidence from a friend or loved one to make the endeavor seem worthwhile.
We need to share words of conviction. In an age when many people aren’t sure what they believe anymore, it’s refreshing to hear someone share their faith in genuine practical terms. We don’t have to be “preachy,” just bold enough to speak up about what we believe and what scriptural truths we hold dear. Your willingness to share your faith may get someone else started on a spiritual journey or help them over a rough spot on the one they’re on.
Words of comfort and joy always bear good fruit. Even if a person going through bereavement or rebounding from some tragedy does not immediately seem comforted, words can be the salve that helps heal those wounds, and those words may come back often in the dead of night when a person needs them most.
Never hesitate to speak works that strengthen, uplift, heal, help, comfort, inspire, convict or shine a light into someone’s soul.
These words will bear good fruit long after they are spoken — and thanks to the law of sowing and reaping, when you are in need of these kinds of words, some good soul will speak them back to you.