I remember watching Sportsnight on June 2nd 1976, which was the eve of the first cricket test between England and the West Indies. On that programme Tony Greig, the England captain, infamously said that he would make the West Indies team grovel. The words are here and the implications commented on here. The words by Tony Greig with all of their implications in connection to apartheid in South Africa and sense of condescension to the West Indies team did everything to motivate the West Indies team.
This incident causes me to muse upon the whole issue of the impact that our words can have in motivating others. Tony Greig through his crass insensitivity did everything to motivate his opponents. Let us hear these words from the wise man in Proverbs 18:6-7:
The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
We need to be very careful with our words. But let us notice that these two proverbs focus on the character of the speaker. It is the fool, the one who does not acknowledge God who spews out nonsense. Whilst we read that:
The tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov. 12:18b) and The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction (Prov. 16:23).
The wise are those who know God. But our wisdom is not self-created; it is rather divinely given. And we are thereby called to ask the Lord to give us this enabling to have wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5).
So we must ask that the Lord may give us wisdom that we might not make a mess with our mouths.