Excerpt from Craig Groeschel's Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World.
Words can devastate. Your body may remain unharmed, but your heart suffers the deadly shrapnel of painful phrases. David, who knew a thing or two about having enemies in high places, wrote that evildoers "sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows" (Ps. 64:3). Whether you're eighteen or eighty, you can probably recall the pain of someone's harsh words scalding your soul. Maybe you still hear the message from years ago, playing an endless loop in your mind, echoing inside you every day:
"You'll never amount to anything."
"I wish I never had you."
"You're nothing like your brother."
"I'm sick of you."
"I never loved you."
"You'll never change."
As devastating as these words can be, they can be offset by words of truth, hope, and love…
[Don't Believe Everything You Hear]
Countless times a day, when it comes to what you hear and say, you have choices to make. When you hear the words of others, you can choose to receive them as truth or reject them as lies. And every time you open your mouth to utter a word, you have the opportunity to speak life or the temptation to take it. Think back through the past few days. When you spoke to others, what did they hear? Either you aimed sharp, poison-tipped darts at their hearts, or you injected them with life-giving, God-honoring booster shots.
Several passages in the Bible clearly contrast the difference. Proverbs says, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (12:18). What are reckless words? They're the shards of glass you hurl in the heat of an argument. They're the words you know you'll regret as soon as they've left your tongue. They're the bitter, painful, cancerous messages that leave people sick and hurting…
What are the phrases etched in your memory that have shaped your life? If you are like most people, you can recall several of the many toxic phrases that have been directed at you. They could have been innocent: "Did you mean to do that to your hair?" "Why aren't you married yet?" "I thought you would do much better than that." Or perhaps the words were intended to pierce your heart like a poison dagger… My hope is that you can also remember life-giving words spoken to you at the precise moment you needed them…
Take out the Trash
We obviously can't control what others say about us, but we can control what we believe.
We obviously can't control what others say about us, but we can control what we believe. Since toxic words can destroy our souls, we've got to passionately guard our hearts against them. Do whatever it takes to keep the poison out of your heart. Solomon told his son, "Listen closely to my words … Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" [Prov. 4:20, 23, emphasis Groeschel's]. With his life-giving words, a protective father warned his son to guard his heart as his life source. We must keep others from dumping their toxic waste into our water supply.
Delete toxic words and insert the truth.
When someone says something to or about you, train yourself to categorize the words the same way we train our kids with a game our friends taught us, Truth or Trash. Analyze the message and source before swallowing and digesting what someone else wants to feed you. Are their words true? Based in Scripture? Supported by data over time? If so, embrace them. Allow those life-giving words to minister to your soul and conform you to the image of Christ. If their words are untrue, mean-spirited, and critical without being constructive, then call them what they are — toxic waste. Reject those words. Don't let them into your soul. Take out the trash and leave it by the curb. Delete toxic words and insert the truth.
- Craig Groeschel
Learn more about Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World.
"That's Just the Way I Am" and Other Self-Deceptions via Craig Groeschel
Can Telling the Truth be Evil? via Lois Tverberg
(Some styling above is web-exclusive and not included in the text of Soul Detox.This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)