As a young teenager, I remember my friends often saying to one another, “Hey, that’s a 429!” This referred to a Scripture passage in Ephesians 4:29. Paraphrased, it basically states you shouldn’t let any unwholesome talk proceed out of your mouth – only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.
How often have you heard someone slander or gossip about another person recently? Were those words edifying to all those who heard it? What about closer to home? How often have you recently spoken mistruths or hateful remarks to your partner? Were your words edifying? Did that help or hinder your relationship?
A friend of mine provided a great analogy in regard to the power of our tongue. It’s like a tube of toothpaste. Once you squeeze the tube (or say something that doesn’t edify someone), there is no possible way to get it back into the tube. In Psalms 15:4, the tongue is referred to as a tree of life and also something that can crush one’s spirit. It has the power of life and death. (Psalms 18:21) If only we realized how powerful our words were, maybe we would say things a bit differently to those within our circle of influence, especially to those we love, our spouse and our children.
Here some of my own scientific proof that our words can bring life or death. At our 2012 Couple’s Conference, we did an experiment. We asked each individual who attended to participate. While holding the first rose, we asked the individual to think of joyful thoughts and memories for 60 seconds. Then, holding the second rose, we asked them to think of painful thoughts and memories for 60 seconds. With the third rose, we asked them to write a life giving word on a sticky note and place it on the container that held the rose. With the fourth rose, we asked them to write a negative word or a word of death on a sticky note and place it on the container that held the rose. The results were amazing. After only 8 days, you could clearly see how the negative emotions and words affected the roses in a negative way. The positive words, thoughts and memories also had a stunning impact. Those roses lived much longer than the other two.
In the photos above, you can see the roses on the left appear to be much healthier than the roses on the right. The roses on the right are becoming discolored and wilting while the roses on the left are full of life and in full bloom.
No longer do I believe that sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Words DO make a difference. Your emotions, stress level and the power of the tongue all have effects on the physical cells in your body – just as they did for these flowers. It’s roses or wrath. Will your words bring life or death? It’s entirely up to you.
P.S. This may sound silly; however, we have seen it work! If you happen to give or receive flowers for Valentine’s Day this year, don’t be afraid to speak positive words over them or play worship music near them – they just might last a little longer than usual! : )
Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.