A long time ago I started playing a game with my children as we went about our days. In an effort to teach to be kind with their words, I would ask "was that a brick or a flower?" The idea is probably self-explanatory – but the gist of it goes like this: communication matters. Insults are like bricks – they hurt and sometimes cause permanent injury when used carelessly. On the other hand, compliments are like flowers – and words of affirmation are like a healing balm for the soul.
As is often the case with these types of lessons, the teacher learned the most! The game made me more aware of my own words. I was suddenly cognizant of my communication – verbal and non-verbal. Was I sighing? Grumbling? Was I building up or tearing down?
The bible has much to say about our speech.
Proverbs 25:11 says "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver," and Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
The New Testament has more advice.
James 3:5 says "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
And Paul admonishes us to use our words wisely. In his letter to the church at Colossi he says, "Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."
Words have power!
I had forgotten that little game, but I think it's time to bring it back. Too much time spent on unimportant pursuits has dulled my perception as of late, and I've been careless and slack with my speech.
Before opening my mouth today I'll stop a second and ask myself, "Is this a brick or a flower?" If it's a brick, I'll reconsider my delivery. If it's a flower – well, one can never have too many of those!