“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

Most of us do not realise the effect of what we say sometimes. Proverbs 12:18 “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”

We tend to say things that we do not mean to say when we are angry; such words are like toxic that can ruin and affect the rest of our words. Less than one percent of our word inventory can ruin and affect all of the rest. You might watch 99 percent of the things you say but the other one percent can cancel it out.

Toxic words are words that sting, that hurt, words that crush the spirit, words that leave people feeling hurt and hopeless. Almost everyone is guilty of this toxic talk if I am permitted to describe it this way. No matter the age, status or gender, we all alike express such words often whether it is intentional or unintentional, a deliberate act to hurt people or out of ignorance, in which ever way we are caught in it.

Usually we don’t mean to hurt people. The words just “pop up” without planning, we forget them but the people they hurt don’t forget. Although, sometimes words have to hurt when you confront painful realities but that is different from this negative product.

Toxic Talk doesn’t lead to help, it destroys. These words are usually said in haste or in anger. Our first task is to identify the toxic words in our speech and eliminate them from our vocabularies. Remember a soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Words such as name calling should no longer be in our vocabulary anymore, words like ‘stu- pid’, ‘idiot’ or ‘worthless’ though seem subtle but still are harmful. Name calling focuses on the character of the individual rather than on the particular problem at hand. For example; “You’re a liar” instead of “You lied.”

Some words are just ugly and negative; they wear on the soul, for example ‘swear words’ or ‘vulgar words’. Words that take the heart out of people, one such word is “divorce” when used by a couple when fighting. It’s like pulling out a gun in the middle of an argument. The argument shifts from the argument to the gun. It becomes a life and death struggle.

We should also be aware of words that overstate the point, when you are upset it is easy to ex- aggerate. Exaggerations leave little room for hope. Even jokes can hurt; people are sensitive about their weight, their appearance, and their intelligence.

The Bible says surround yourself with people who will model proper conduct, which includes the choice and application of your words. If you are serious about changing your ways, then you need to spend time with people who know how to manage their words. That’s one of the benefits of a Christian fellowship where you can pick up positive values as you serve with others who are a little further ahead on their journey.

Garment of Praise

Monthly Insights for Spiritual Growth, Encouragement and Personal Victory.

Oluyemisi Onanuga

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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