Casting Off Negativity
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." Proverbs 18:21
Negativity is like a weed that robs us of the vitality available in thankfulness, in right thinking, and in saying only that which builds up. Negativity never serves to edify, produce life, or lead to anything positive. It can serve only the purpose of destruction. Let’s spend time today looking at what the Bible says about negativity, learning how we can stop its destruction, and ask the Holy Spirit to be our Helper in ridding it from our lives. Scripture speaks very harshly of the power of an unbridled tongue. James 3:2-6 says:
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
The tongue is the rudder that leads to a life of “unrighteousness” or a life lived in honor and obedience to God. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Speaking negatively produces the fruit of unrighteousness while speaking words of thankfulness and grace produces life. Proverbs 26:20 says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” We’ve all experienced the harmful effects of slander. If we will choose to cut out negativity, we can put out the destructive fire slander causes. Finally, Proverbs 15:4 says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Have you experienced the power of negativity in your own life? How does speaking negatively about a person affect your feelings toward them? How does speaking negatively of a situation affect your perspective for the day? Now think about the opposite. What does it do for your emotions and perspectives to speak positively? How do you feel when you express thankfulness about your life instead of negativity? As we learned in Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” When you speak gently of others you will find life produced not only in yourself but in them as well. When you co-labor with God’s heart in sharing his message of love, grace, and peace, the result is a wellspring of life.
Negativity is not the same as correcting those around you face-to-face. The Bible speaks highly of correction motivated by love. And we need people around us that have the courage and love to correct us when we’re wrong. However, there is no place for negativity in the lives of believers. You don’t need it! You don’t have to speak negatively about people and situations. You can always choose to speak thankfulness, grace, and love. Think for a minute about what your life would look like without negativity. How would your attitudes, emotions, and perspective be different? Would you enjoy your life more? Would others enjoy you more?
The Holy Spirit is here to help you express thankfulness instead of negativity. He is always looking for opportunities to lead you into a life more full of the abundance and enjoyment of God’s righteousness. He is faithful to guide you into a fruitful life lived in obedience to him. God will never give you a command he won’t help you obey. He is not a God who sits back firing rules at his people from afar. He is a God who comes down off his throne to die in order to make a way for you to live a better life full of restored relationship with him. Choose thankfulness today over negativity and rid yourself of that which robs you of experiencing God’s promise of abundant life. Spend time with him today in his presence, let his love and grace stir up thankfulness within you, and receive the help that comes from the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life.
1. Meditate on what God says about the power of your speech.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:11
2. Now reflect on people and situations that seem to constantly produce negativity in your life. Where do you most often feel anger, frustration, and negativity? Who consistently leads you to speak negatively about people or situations?
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you speak life and thankfulness today instead of negativity. Think back on those people and circumstances. Focus on what you can be thankful for today. Thank God for what he is doing in those people and circumstances that seem to consistently produce negativity in you.
When you begin to notice yourself speaking negatively today, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into an attitude of thankfulness. Hold captive your thoughts today. Catch them before you speak them. Choose to speak life into people around you. Spread God’s love today. And watch as your day is transformed into being more joyful, peaceful, and full of life.
Extended Reading: James 3
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