While eating my lunch today, I overheard a conversation that broke my heart. A group of friends were discussing youth groups and church attendance, when one of them said, “I quit going to church in ninth grade, when my youth leader told me I was going to Hell.” Another friend said, “Yeah, I went all my life, but in high school I realized the people I sat near were a bunch of hypocrites.” The third friend nodded in agreement, as if her experiences had been very similar.
Ugh. Heaven help us all.
How many times have lives been impacted by those who were “helping God” and instead were causing others to fall away from their young faith?
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).
I thought back to that youth group leader, where were the words full of grace? Where were the words that would help preserve and heal the human heart? How many young men and women have been impacted by more religious rules and never came to see the relationship with Jesus was not a life of rules, but a life of grace?
I have watched the hearts of young children embrace the amazing love and mercies of God. They have sought Christ and His words like a hungry baby seeks his mother’s milk. I have also watched as young men walked away from the faith they claimed when they were younger, believing it is not important anymore.
What causes that change? That lukewarm feeling that slowly turns cold? It’s the words spoken in anger, the words spoken carelessly at a time when tender words were needed. We are all responsible for the things we say and for the things we don’t say. Scripture tells us we will have to give an account on the last day for our words and actions. I do not want to stand before the Heavenly Father I say I am following, only to have to confess to a bitterness in my own heart that led me to speak bitter words.
Best Beloved, I do not know what your house was like as you grew up. I know what mine was like, as well as the houses of a few dear friends. I know that words screamed or even whispered in anger were the hardest ones to forget. That the gentleness and tenderness given at a moment they were desperately needed made a lifetime of difference to the receiver. I know for some friends being told they mattered by someone who was not their mom or dad made the scales tip toward life instead of suicide.
We are to speak words that heal and preserve, just like salt does, words seasoned with a full measure of grace to those who need to hear them. Words that speak life, words that bind up brokenness, words that will encourage another, words that will bring love into a place where love has all but dried up.
Dear Ones, my heart has been broken again and again by cruel words meant to damage, to cut, to wound, and to destroy my joy. I have had my heart grow a hundred times over because of kindness spoken to me when justice would have been deserved. I have felt the burdens lifted off my shoulders because someone came along side of me and asked how I was doing.
When we speak, may our speech be full of Christ and empty of ourselves. The love which comes from Heaven itself sings loud and strong when we tune our ears and hearts to hear it. May it be the same for the songs and words we sing and speak to others in our lives, today and always.
Much love and many blessings,