The lips of the righteous nourish many.  Proverbs 10:21

There was a monastery where only five old monks lived, all of them over seventy. They were concerned about the future of their order. So they called upon a hermit, who was believed to be a prophet, and asked if he had any ideas about saving the monastery. The hermit replied, “No. The only thing I can tell you is that one of you is an apostle of God.” The monks didn’t know which one of them was the apostle, so they began to treat each other with extraordinary respect. People who came in contact with them were compelled by the love that seemed to radiate from the monks and permeate the entire place. Over time, more and more visitors came, and others eventually joined the order. The hermit’s gift of words had been the seed of rebirth.

            Words have great power. We all need God’s wisdom to help us keep a watch over what we say and how we say it--and why we say it. It is easy to criticize, but if you want relationships—good relationships—keep criticism at a minimum and emphasize kind words instead. When I was a child, we would sing that song, “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play; where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.” Most of you have probably not even heard of that song, but think about the words. Can it be said of the place where we call home? It’s sad that we don’t protect our most important relationships (the ones at home—and I’m not talking about the deer and the antelope!) by trying not to say discouraging words there. We tend to do the opposite. We say encouraging words to all day to people we hardly know, and then to those whom we have declared our love and loyalty, we let it spew.  Maybe the skies would seem less cloudy at home if we tried harder. Remember: One of you may be an apostle, and your future may depend on it!

*Do your lips nourish people? In your words, what does that mean?

*Why not save all your “honest” comments for one night of the week? Then decide that the rest of the week you will not say discouraging things.

Father, I renounce my rights to say everything that comes into my mind. Help me to first ask if it will nourish or help the person or the situation. Remove from me the root of irritation that keeps this sin of negativity and criticalness alive in me. I reject the thought that I’ll never change. Spirit of God, I invite you to cleanse and control the destructive things in me. Change my heart, O God, in the power of Jesus’ name.

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