Neutralizing Toxic Talk

Sharon JaynesKnowing God, Power of Words, Prayer/Spiritual Warfare, Uncategorized 39 Comments

There is so much toxic talk these days. Political ads, tweets, FB posts, and heated arguments among family and friends. It makes me tired. Does it you? It reminds me of an oil spill.

Remember when that 1,200 miles of Alaskan shoreline was covered with black slimy crude oil by the Exxon Valdez oil spill?  Eleven million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Prince William Sound and disrupted the ecological balance of nature. More than 1,000 bodies of once-bustling sea otters were littering the coast, and more than 100,000 grounded birds were gasping for air. Many of its most beautiful inhabitants, including 150 bald eagles, were killed. The once glacier-fed waters teeming with life became an oily death trap.

Just as toxins in nuclear waste facilities, city dumps, and industrial accidents wreak havoc on the environment, toxic words cause destruction to the hearts and souls of the people. Paul wrote, “Let no foul or polluting language…[ever] come out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29 AMPC). Many times, the words we speak pollute the hearts of the hearer. Can we clean up the mess and repair the damage? Absolutely! We can choose to clean up the verbal pollutants and break the patterns of toxic words.

Think of our words on a pendulum that swings between those two points. However, I don’t want to be a powerless woman who vacillates between the two depending on what mood I’m in on any given day. I want to be a woman who is intentional—who guards her words with the God-given power of the Holy Spirit. And I’m sure you do too.

James wrote, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by human beings, but no one can tame the tongue” (James 3:7 tniv). That’s the bad news. Now, here’s the good news. While no human being can tame the tongue…God can. It may be impossible for James, and for you and for me, but it is not impossible for God. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God asked Abraham after announcing that Sarah’s 90-year-old body was going to bear a child (Genesis 18:14).

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who enables us to do all that God has called us to do. He gives us the power to change!

Jesus explained to the disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had instructed.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4).

Isn’t it interesting that the first manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit was words and the first visual manifestation was tongues of fire? The disciples were able to speak in the various languages of the men and women who were visiting Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The travelers heard the gospel in their own languages! Yes, that was astonishing. But even more amazing was the courage that arose in the cowardly disciples.

Just a short time before Pentecost, Peter had been so afraid that he denied he even knew who Jesus was. A mere servant girl’s question had Peter shaking in his sandaled feet and swearing he was no friend of Jesus. But after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd with such a mighty sermon that 3000 men and women accepted Jesus as their Savior and were baptized. That’s what the Holy Spirit can do for timid souls who believe. He can transform a cursing tongue into a confessing tongue.

It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to control this little muscle that rests between our teeth. However, change requires cooperation. We must work in tandem with the Holy Spirit to rein in this feisty force. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, but it is our responsibility to put God-given principles into practice.

You and I have that power. It’s up to us to access it. Remember, the power of the Holy Spirit can do more on our worst days than we can do on our best days. We would be foolish to think that we could control our tongues in our own strength. I’m so glad we don’t have to.

Father, I don’t want to pollute others’ hearts with negative words that bring them down. Help me to be an encourager who speaks words of life to those around me. I ask that the Holy Spirit empower me to control my tongue and guard my mouth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What is one of the best ways you’ve found to neutralize toxic talk and turn a conversation around? Leave a comments and let’s learn from each other.

Sharon’s re-released and updated version of her best-selling book and Bible study guide, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others are hot off the press. They include new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Perfect for your women’s ministry’s next Bible study!

Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to

  • exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
  • recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
  • overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
  • tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
  • stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit
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Comments 39

  1. Amen my mother inlaw is toxic she has too be right no matter what and a control freek. No of his other siblings want to help her but my husband and I and she is always going off on him and me . She ask me if she did say things too him and I am not going too lie and she goes off on me for that. We pray for her and our family every day.

  2. My heart was broken, over the past few days, at being embarrassed and berated by a friend, in a public arena. I was devastated!
    As I anguished over what had happened, my heart broke over the way people talk to each other. My heart was so grieved, then I thought of how grieved God’s heart must be at the way we speak to each other.
    I was deeply touched by this thought, and determined to pray for this woman, and people like her, who seem unable to be kind.
    Imagine my delight when I awoke this morning to this email.
    Praise God that He speaks to us in the moment about what is most relevant to us.

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    2. This has really ministered to me about the kind of heart the God wants us to have when we are hurt by others. I struggle daily with a hurt of a friend but the answer is prayer and forgiveness. Thank you for helping me to change my heart posture. Glory to God.

  3. I have found that if I will just stop and think about what I am about to say and many times I don’t say it. Especially if it is something negative or critical. Now I don’t believe in holding back anything loving or praising. If it is from the heart it needs to be said. Blessings!

  4. I love your book and am trying to study with it every day. I have 3 grown boys and I remember vividly the day many years ago my middle son told me to watch my words. I don’t remember what I was saying but it must have been something unkind that wasn’t building others up. I wish I had had this book then. Today I still struggle with guarding my tongue. I think I always will. I am a high school tennis coach for girls and these girls really need encouragement. I really have to work hard to watch my words with the girls and their moms. I decided I might put a football mouth guard in my pocket to help remind me to guard my words. Then I remembered that God has a sense of humor! He gave us Covid masks! Today while coaching my match I have to wear it the whole time. Thank you for your encouragement.

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      1. Yes children are the best teachers. I teach 6-8 years old in Sunday school they bless my heart with their realness thank you for this devotional❤️

  5. I have a hard time trying not to hurt others. I am the kind person with big heart. But my mouth gets me in trouble. Because if someone asked I will tell them like I see it. Then after it comes out of my mouth I realized that maybe I should have said different. I am always asking for forgiveness on this.

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  6. Thank you for these messages. I’m working in a toxic environment where words are used all day to break the spirit of everyone in the office. It is difficult on the best of days to stay out of the line of Fire. I’m encouraged to try harder to send affirming words to those around me.

  7. The best way I’ve found to neutralize toxic talk is to not engage so as not to further the conversation. A subtle change of topic usually gets the point across.

  8. I feel that I’m in the process of learning to RESPOND rather than REACT when someone’s words tend to attack or wound me. If I step back and take time to ponder and pray and give God time to speak into my life, then I have the presence to remain silent. Still. Listening. Waiting. Expectant.
    the power to speak with His words of wisdom and grace. Exodus 14:14 reminds me that the Lord will fight for me. My part is to remain quiet and wait. In His time the Holy Spirit will help me respond with His words of power, hope and love.

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    2. You are so right in your thinking…respond not react. This was our mantra as our 3 now grown kids were growing up. Little did we know God would bring it around for my husband and I as we dealt with one of our adult sons and his wife. Our son suffered a TBI and PTSD while serving in some pretty scary parts of the world about 15 yrs ago. While he recovered from the outwardly visible wounds very well, inwardly he became a totally different person. Toxic, abusive language and the enjoyment he gains from “picking fights” now seems to define our once loving, caring son. Thankfully several years ago he turned from face to face “assaults” to using strictly texts, so that made it much easier to respond vs react :/ Many times no response is our most loving response to hurtful, untrue statements directed at or about us. Remember, our Enemy loves to “ stir the pot” then sits back and watch.

  9. Thank you Sharon for your loving way of teaching. I’ve been reading your book and praying that my words are positive and helpful rather than being potentially hurtful. I love how you’re obesities the teachings of Jesus. God bless.

  10. I have always had trouble with thinking toxically and speaking that way too. These lessons have helped me acknowledge this and work on turning to new ways. Thank you so much.

  11. My Sunday School call is studying from your book: The Power of a Women’s Words. It has been encouraging and rewarding in our process of spiritual growth. We love your style of teaching and how each chapter is centered around God’s Word. I pray God’s continuous blessings on you and your ministry.

  12. Thank you for this word of encouragement. I was just praying about this this morning. I host Papercrafting retreats in Southern Colorado. I was recently a vendor at a different retreat where the political and devisive talk got so bad that many of the ladies were uncomfortable and complaining to the events planner. I’m hosting an event next month and have been praying how to address this at the beginning of the event to hopefully stop it before it starts. THANK YOU!!! You gave me some great ideas on how to address this issue without offending anyone or ruining what should be a fun weekend get-away.

  13. Wow wow this was an awesome revelation Thsnk u for this article been telling my kids about their words every day including myself always reminding my thoughts to think before I open my mouth. Thsnk u

  14. Thank you Sharon. I truly appreciate this. I have struggled with this problem as long as I can remember. You see I have been given the gift of being a warrior, but until recently have not had the relationship with God to always use that gift in the manner He intends. Over my 52 years, it seems I’ve become so overwhelmed with all that is wrong, all of the injustice and rule breaking in this world I can hardly function in it. As you can I’m sure imagine this has caused health problems, relationships to become strained or nonexistent, and so many tears have been shed by me over my seeming complete lack of any control over my tongue. I have actually prayed that God duct tape my mouth shut! I am quick to act or react, and have prayed & prayed that He please stop that instinct and shut my mouth so that I can as so many have said, think before I speak. I am ashamed so very ashamed. I have allowed the circumstances of life and the darkness in this world shape me into someone I do not want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I am compassionate, I’d help anybody, I love fiercely, which also causes me to be fierce should a loved one be wronged, again usually displayed by my sharp tongue. I am moved to read your book and I pray that The Holy Spirit guide me as I read it. My 30 year old daughter and I are close but I do need to do much better communicating with her. She’s so often who The Lord uses to remind me of His way and when I am not following His wishes. I am so blessed to have her in my life. Thank you again Sharon.

  15. Thank you, Sharon. Wonderful lesson! It can be truly hard to hold your tongue when someone is not treating us well, or in an argument. I try so hard to remember to respond in grace, but I don’t always succeed. Great teaching!

  16. This is timely for me … I’ve been convicted by the Spirit about my negativity and need to control my words for a while and praying about it. Psalm 141: 3, 4, and 8 is my prayer!! Philippians 4, my desire for my thinking. Thanks for your devotions on this. Love the
    “T.H.I.N.K” acronym!!

  17. I struggle with thinking before I speak. One of my fav ways to combat this is to use one of my fav verses and ask God to “put a guard over my mouth / keep watch over the door of my lips”. When I ask, He is faithful! I also have found that WHEN I stay focused on Him and in the Word, the Spirit is quick to remind me of the things I need to do and say. I liked your T.H.I.N.K. acronym from your precious email and was really encouraged. Being from TEXAS, the “roping of heifers” and thinking of our words as “lots of little heifers” made me smile – such a great picture of taking every thought captive! Keep encouraging us!! He is working through you and all you have to share!

  18. I think sometimes finding something to be thankful for in the situation and speaking that out loud before voicing the complaint or other negative comment. Sometimes I find when I do that the negative things all of a sudden just don’t seem like they need to be said.

  19. Thank you for the great reminder that we have a Lord that help us on our worst days. The Holy Spirit can guide us through those times we don’t think it’s possible. So needed to hear his “Good News” today. No excuses 😉

  20. I love this! I do try to be a woman who encourages others but I do get it wrong at times.
    Your book is a great source of information. I have it on kindle and audible.
    Many thanks for your great work. 🤍

  21. My sister is always leading me on with words of praise and love and then once she has convinced me she has changed she berates me and tells me how I’m nothing and I will never amount to anything. I have 28 months clean and sober and have totally turned my life around. I know that God loves me and is proud of me and that’s all I need to know. I pray for my family everyday but sometimes you just have to let go and give them to God.

  22. Praise the Lord this has been a powerful message bless the name of the Lord.I have been touched together with my family. We live in Uganda East Africa where we are seeing a lot of harm to lives because of words.Thank you

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