Building Up or Tearing Down: The Power Of Your Words

Sitting in my kitchen window is this scripture, “Wise people are builders — they build families, businesses, communities. And through intelligence and insight their enterprises are established and endure.” Proverbs 24:3 (TPT)

Every day I look at that scripture and I can’t get past the first part, “Wise people are builders” because the immediate question that come to my mind is, Am I building or tearing down? 

Words are compelling, and how we use them determines their effect. Do you ever think about the words you use?

Most days I can operate on auto pilot and give encouraging words that build up. But when I’m stressed, discouraged or frazzled, another pilot seems to take control and my words become sarcastic and negative.

Isn’t it odd how our words can be life giving and then in a moment, switch to life draining? Whats more, it can happen in the same conversation!

This week the two verses Ephesians 4:29 and Proverbs 18:21 have been at the front of my mind.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome (unnecessary) word come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (emphasis mine)

Proverbs 18:21 (TPT) “Your words are so weighty that they have the power to bring life or release death…”

Both of these verses stress the importance of our words. They have the power to build up and bring life, or tear down and release death upon those who hear.

My kids are too young to understand sarcasm, but if I’m not careful, they will pick it up pretty quickly if I continue to respond sharply when I’m irritated…I can also warp another persons perspective by unnecessarily pointing out the flaws and frustrations I have with someone else, rather than examining my thoughts and letting God change my perspective.

And all of that is in the power of the words I use.

Unnecessary and unwholesome words come out so quickly and easily that you and I can be waste deep in hurtful words before we even realize it.

Which brings me back to my question, “Are you and I building up or tearing down?” “Are we adding any unnecessary or unwholesome words to your conversations?”

I don’t know what your answer is, but my answer is less than stellar.

The good news is, there’s hope! I’m grateful that we have a God who picks us up when we fall. And he is also the One who loves us too much to let us stay in our sin. He’s the one who refines us to remove the unwholesome things in our lives. We just have to be humble enough to admit that we need to change and be willing to change.

I’ve realized that the change in my words, comes from my willingness to ask God to change me. It’s a process working out in me, so that, when I do stumble and say those unwholesome words, they now leave a rotten taste in my own mouth, which reminds me that I’m acting in a way that doesn’t align up with who I am in Christ — that’s progress! Before, I would pat myself on the back because I had been so witty — I’m not so proud of that anymore.

I’m grateful that God meets us where we’re at, he doesn’t write us off as unchangeable, but instead, sees the dormant potential in all of us, and will call out who he knows we can be.

If you have been unwise with your words like I have, would you consider these two questions:

  • The opposite of unwholesome is wholesome, which would be good and healthy. Are our words, good and healthy or rotten and sour?
  • Wise people are builders, so are we building with our words or are we leading the demolition team?

If your words have been unnecessary and destructive, would you ask God to start the change with you first? And realize that Holy Spirit is the one who empowers you to speak life giving words. So ask Holy Spirit to help you, he gladly will!

Until next time,


P.S. I got to preach this past Sunday at my church (which was such a honor and a blessing), if you would like to listen to the sermon, click here Can These Bones Live? Speaking life to the dead places. I pray it blesses you!




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