Mixed Messages

Sharon JaynesGeneral Inspiration, Power of Words 27 Comments

Today’s Truth 
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers and sisters [and girlfriends] this should not be” (James 3:9-10 TNIV).

Friend To Friend 
Catherine and I set out for a lazy summer stroll through the neighborhood just before the fireflies emerged to celebrate the setting of the sun.  We chatted about raising boys, working husbands, and decorating dilemmas.  When we arrived back at her house, she invited me to come in and look at some fabric swatches for a new sofa.  Before I knew it, a few minutes turned into a couple of hours.

“Oh, my!” I exclaimed.  “It’s ten o’clock. I’ve been gone for over two hours!  I bet Steve’s worried sick.  He doesn’t even know where I am.  I’d better give him a call before I start back home.”

When I dialed the number, the answering machine picked up.  After I listened to my sweet Southern greeting, I left a bitter message.

“Steve, I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s.  I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!”  Click.   I said my goodbyes to Catherine and left feeling somewhat dejected.  I’m wandering around in the dark all alone and he doesn’t even care, I mumbled to no one in particular.       

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed someone coming toward me.  It was Sir Galahad riding on his steed…his bicycle! 

“Where have you been?” Steve desperately asked.  “I’ve been riding all over the neighborhood looking for you! Do you know what time it is?”

“Oh you do care,” I said with a grin, giving him a big hug. 

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing.  Let’s go home.” I answered.

When we got back home, I quickly erased the message on the machine before Steve could hear my reprimanding words. “Whew,” I thought, “That was close.”

A few days later, Steve called me from work.

“Sharon, have you listened to the answering machine lately?”

“No, why?”

“Well, I think there’s something on there you need to hear.”

We hung up and I reached for my cell phone to call my home phone. The message on the answering machine went something like this.

(The voice of a Sweet Southern Belle)  “Hello, you’ve reached the Jaynes’ residence.  We’re unable to answer the phone right now… (enter the voice of Cruella de Vil) “I was calling to let you know I’m at Katherine’s.  I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t pick up the phone! (Return of Sweet Southern Bell) At the sound of the beep, leave your number and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible.” Beep.

“Oh, my goodness!” I screamed.  “How did this happen!  How many people have heard this over the past three days?”

I called the phone company and they explained that sometimes during a thunderstorm (which had occurred three days prior), lightening strikes the wires and answering machine messages get scrambled.  The old message somehow got attached to the greeting.

I was mortified.  It sounded like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde reincarnate.

“Lord,” I prayed.  “This is so embarrassing.”

“Yes, it is,” He replied.

Well, He didn’t really say that in so many words.  It was more like this. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (James 3:9-12 TNIV).

“OK Lord, I get the message.” I prayed.  But unfortunately, so did a lot of other people.

As women, I am amazed how quickly we can flit back and forth between blessing and belittling, praising and putting-down, cheering and critiquing – all in a matter of seconds.  God has given us incredible power in our sphere of influence, and it begins with the words we speak. Few forces have as powerful an effect as the sounds that pass our lips.  Our words can spark a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, fan the dying embers of a friend’s broken dreams into a flame, encourage a fellow believer to run the race set before her, and draw a lost soul to Christ. 

My devotions for the month of September will focus on our words. I invite you to explore one of the mysteries of the feminine mystique – the power of a woman’s words. Are words powerful?  Yes!  Just how powerful?  We’ll learn together.  Let’s take a look at one of God’s most incredible gifts to mankind and consider the potential we have right under our noses…words.

Let’s Pray 
Dear Heavenly Father, oh how I have a difficult time controlling my tongue!  I pray that you will put a guard over my mouth.  Help me to think before I speak. I pray the Holy Spirit will take control of my words and use me as an instrument of encouragement. In Jesus’ Name, 


Now It’s Your Turn 
A word has been described as the smallest unit of meaningful linguistic communication.  But that little tiny entity has great potential.

Read James 3:2-6 and answer the following questions.

How is the tongue like the rudder of a ship?

Who is the ship? (There is not necessarily a right answer.)

On any given day, there are many travelers on our ship (our families and friends) or people we pass on the waterways of life.  How do our words carry people along the same route we are traveling?  How do our words maneuver or bump into those that are passing by?

Additional Resource
Today’s blog is taken from Sharon’s book,   There is great power in the words we speak and the people we impact.  If you would like to learn more about how to harness this powerful resource and use your words for good, this book will be a great resource.  Why not get a group of girlfriends together and learn about The Power of a Woman’s Words together!

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Comments 27

  1. This is exactly what I needed this morning. Sometimes I get so frustrated with my mate, and I end up saying things that I know I shouldn’t. Today, I am asking God to help me guard my words concerning him. Thank you for this devotion.

  2. This topic of taming the tongue is a challenge ever before me. I appreciate so much, Sharon’s willingness to be transparent. After reading this devotion, I asked myself, what whould I say differently if every word I spoke was recorded for all to hear? I can remember my mother, when I was a little girl, using her “telephone voice” and then snapping at my sister and me seconds after hanging up. The holy spirit has convicted me that I too can have that discrepancy in my behavior.
    Those closest to us, our husbands and children are the most likely to see through that layer of hypocrisy when we can be blind to it.

    I have seen this as a challenge in dealing with family relationships.
    I realize that I can be so pleasant and complimentary with some of my in-laws in person. Then, in a heartbeat, I can jump in the car and behind their back, speak a critical word and highlight flaws in the same person! I know the Lord desires for my walk to match my talk.
    I am praying to see others through HIS eyes, and to continue to die to self…. Daily…..

    Thank you for your wonderful example and insight.

  3. How timely the message comes. Just last night my words were not kind to my teenage daughter. I felt a great deal of guilt after exchanging the words we did. I will say an extra prayer that I think before I speak!

  4. Thank you, The Lord has spoken that verse to me more than once. I need that reminder often. My mom told me she heard we have a voice print similar to our thumb print no one else has the same one. I’d like to hear more about that. God bless you

  5. These words are wonderful. I’m daily working on the words and the attitude displayed in my life. I love the story with a little humor, but an honest point. We can all account for a similiar situation to your embarassing moment where we have let the words file out of our mouth with a bitter bite. I appreciate you sharing this story and the powerful message today. Thank you and God bless!

  6. Thank you for sharing your personal experience – a poignant illustration. Reading your story has certainly inspired me to be more aware and purposeful in the words I use to address my spouse.

  7. “Life and death is in the power of the tongue”.
    I am truly grateful for your encouraging words today. Sometimes; no make that a lot of times, I don’t think before I speak and before I know it the words have already tumbled out of my mouth and then it’s too late. I am truly looking forward to this month’s devotions regarding our words and I’m even more excited about my transformation in the end.

    May God continue to bless your ministry.


  8. All is can say is thank you! I feel ashamed. I needed this today. I agree with another writer that it seems our spouse and children are more so affected by this behavior usually after a long day at work, CHORES, CHORES, CHORES or just not feeling the best. I will pray to do better immediately and ask for forgiveness to my family. Sincerely……. God is always right on time! His message gets through!

  9. I think this is a great devotion for everyday. I am certainly guilty of these such situations and often need to be reminded of this. Sometimes it just becomes a part of our everyday living and it soon becomes a habit. I want to thank you for this great reminder and you have helped me be more cautious about my words. I am going to think a little more before I speak and just let God work in my words.

  10. Wow! How timely this devotion was today! After 17 years of trying to deal with my difficult sister-in-law in a somewhat positive way, during a very stressful time in my life a few weeks ago, she said some very hurtful things and I lost it in a big way. I have since apologized, but bc I was unfairly “unloading the kitchen sink” on her, she does not see what she had done that could have deserved such treatment nor is she ready to accept my apology. Just this a.m. I prayed that God would find a way to heal our rel’p because I have really done a lousy job. I also want to be able to use my words for healing, not tearing apart. Also, my young nieces were within earshot and now are very confused about how Aunt Kim could say such things. Thank you for your timely devotion and I thank God for continuing to be who He is (and providing “Godstop” moments and insights for learning) despite my faults and failures.

  11. This is a fantastic reminder of just how powerful the tounge can be.
    There was a fuuny email I read years sgo that said Lord when you hug me today, please keep one hand over my heart and the other over my mouth.

  12. This was a wonderful devotion and I am glad that you will be focusing on the power of the tongue. I saw myself in the story today and I want to happy with the woman I see in the mirror. I want to be an instrument of praise and encouragement and not distruction. In my line of work I use “words” a lot and I want to be a positive influence, not a negative one.

  13. Thank you for this devotion! Guarding my tongue is something God has put on my heart lately and how much power is in our words. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of how I my words can build up my husband, my children and those around me in great ways or they can tear them down. I am going to speak more praise and positive things into their lives!

  14. This is exactly what I need this morning!

    This morning I commit my frustrations to God! I ask Him to help me to respond to my children with wisdom and understanding whenever I open my mouth. Lord forgive me in this.

    Thank for your obedience in sharing this incident. I was encouraged.

  15. I want to thank you for reminding me that bitter words can hurt the ones you love. Often I have said things that I wished I could take back, but it was too late. I pray today that I will think before I speak and pray that when I begin to think bitterly I will stop thinking that way. Thank you for your everyday messages that get me through my day!

  16. I purchased the book and workbook over a year ago but they just sat on my bookshelf untouched. A few months ago, God laid it on my heart to begin a small study group using this book and workbook. Our first ‘informational’ meeting was two Saturdays ago. All of us are so excited about the changes God is going to make in us and through us during and after the completion of this study. Sharon, may God continue to bless you for doing His Will and His Work that He has set before you.

  17. Thanks for sharing this – at times, more than not, I have a bad tongue when it comes to my kids and sometimes my husband. Like Kristi said about her mom using the “telephone voice” and after hanging up snapping at her little sister – that hit home with me. This has opened my eyes up to what I say affects people and leaves a lasting impression and the impression I want to leave is a GODLY one. The truth is, words can hurt and if they hurt, they are always there and will be brought back to your mind throughout your life.
    So as the song goes, “oh be careful little mouth what you say, there’s a Father up above looking down in tender love, oh be careful little mouth what you say.”

  18. Thank you for this devotional today, it was forwarded to me by my sister-in-law. I just wanted to add that in addition to the need to control our tongues and mind our words we need to be aware that our hearts are really important too. When we harbor unresolved anger or bitterness toward anyone it can quickly come out against some who may be completely undeserving of our cross words. Out unruly tongues are really a matter of the heart. We would do well to take a look at why we would feel so free to curse, when we could bless instead. Controlling the tongue should be and outward expression of an inward experience.

  19. When talking about our children, I am challenged with speaking the promise and what I actually see with my eyes. It seems when the wrong thing comes out, it sound like I am angry with the destruction of what I have sown in them. I believe God will bring them all full circle to what they have been taught. I have to constantly remember this and want to speak that. I am reading the book and doing the study guide. On p. 91 it tells about messengers running from the battlefield to tell the anxious family and friends how the battle is going. I really need one of these angels sometimes. The prayer on p. 103 is what I do when I catch myself. Pray for me to get to this part sooner. Thanks.

  20. Reading the devotion brings tears to my eyes. Words hurts so bad. My husband say he loves the Lord with his mouth but he can cut me with his awful words that he say to me. I feel unappreciated, unlove by him. My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does not waver. I submit to my husband and I love him very much. He express his love to me but when he gets mad I am the first person he attacks. It is a roller coaster. I pray about it for it to stop. I seldom say anything back to him. He see may tears and it don’t affect him at all. Any words of encourgement will be appreciated. Oh yea I know that this does not matter but my husband is the evangelist of the church we attend.

  21. last week i had a big fight with a friend,he said iam disrespetful and always hurthim with the words i say. This came ta the right time when i am trying to change the way i use words. God help me and bless you.

  22. Thank you Sharon for all of your thoughts shared in writing, for us daily readers of Girlfriends in God. This particular devotional really stuck out in my heart and the heart of my close friend. She has been my “walking/talking” partner for almost 6 years, and as Christian sisters, we have become each others “Wingmen”. Your messages and the messages of the other Girlfriends in God have been a source of so many of our conversations. They have helped us both to lift each other in prayer, as well as slap each other upside the head when we need it. We almost walk into things as we verbally read the printed messages to each other, using them to point out God’s views and to discuss what is going on in each of our lives, and hearts. Today’s message on the tongue, as well as your other messages on the tongue have been the topic of our walks and talks for over a year now, and we both realize how powerful the tongue really is. (For encouragement or for hurt.) I just want to say thank you for helping two women in Christ in Northern California! We appreciate your message and the messages from our other Girlfriends in God.

  23. I just loved this devotion on how we let our tongue get in the way of the Holy Spirit. I too use to be quick witted and come back with something usually to hurt someone who had hurt me. Now, I just let them say what they feel they need to say and I just tell them to have a Blessed Day. It is wasted energy to stand and try to get someone back with words of hurt who have hurt you. Use the time to bless them and pray for them. That is what God wants us to do. They may have had a bad day, be going through a bad time. We just do not know what the other person is going through when they come at us with such ugliness. We need to show them how God works in our lives and God will touch their hearts and then we can be a part of bringing them to Christ.

  24. The Bible, tells us that “The tongue is sharper than sny two edged sword”. It cuts like a knife to the heart and spirit for any hateful attitude we have toward people. (All PEOPLE). It’s time we get our act together and speak posive things, not negative ones. We hurt sooo many people sometimes. We speak before we even think. I know I’ve been quilty and I pray today that God will bridle my tongue. Thanks sister Sharon for the devotion. It really spoke to my heart & spirit. May God richly Bless You today and everyday. sallysue

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