The Voice in Speech and Song


Chapter 8—The Influence of Words

Tongue Control by Divine Grace—My brethren and sisters, how are you employing the gift of speech? Have you learned so to control the tongue that it shall ever obey the dictates of an enlightened conscience and holy affections? Is your conversation free from levity, pride and malice, deceit and impurity? Are you without guile before God? Words exert a telling power. Satan will, if possible, keep the tongue active in his service. Of ourselves we cannot control the unruly member. Divine grace is our only hope.—Testimonies for the Church 5:175. VSS 48.1

An Influence to Balance Souls—Words spoken in season, how good are they! How much strength a word of hope, courage, and determination in a right course will give one who is inclined to slide into habits that are demoralizing! The firm purpose you may possess in carrying out good principles will have an influence to balance souls in the right direction.—Messages to Young People, 125. VSS 48.2

Choice of Words in Light of the Judgment—If you cherish a habitual impression that God sees and hears all that you do and say, and keeps a faithful record of all your words and actions, and that you must meet it all, then in all you do and say you will seek to follow the dictates of an enlightened and wakeful conscience. Your tongue will be used to the glory of God and will be a source of blessing to yourself and to others. But if you separate from God, as you have been doing, take heed lest your tongue shall prove a world of iniquity and bring upon you fearful condemnation; for souls will be lost through you.—Testimonies for the Church 4:244. VSS 48.3

Links in the Chain of Human Events—You may think that what you do or say is of little consequence, when the most important results for good or evil are the consequence of our words and actions. The words and actions looked upon as so small and unimportant are links in the long chain of human events.—Testimonies for the Church 3:542. VSS 49.1

Christ's Way—God's servants in this age have been given most solemn truths to proclaim, and their actions and methods and plans must correspond to the importance of their message. If you are presenting the word in Christ's way, your audience will be deeply impressed with the truths you teach. The conviction will come to them that this is the word of the living God.—Testimonies for the Church 9:143. VSS 49.2

Importance of Every Word—Every uttered word exerts an influence, every action involves a train of responsibility. No one can live to himself in this world, even if he would. Each one forms a part of the great web of humanity, and through our individual threads of influence, we are linked to the universe. Christ used His influence to draw men to God, and He has left us an example of the way in which we should speak and act. A person who is molded by the Spirit of God will know how to speak a “word in season to him that is weary,” and will realize the highest human blessedness—the joy of imparting to others the precious treasures of the wisdom and grace of Christ. But those who permit themselves to be controlled by the enemy of all good will speak words which should never be uttered.—The Review and Herald, February 16, 1897. VSS 49.3

Impress of Every Word and Act—“We are laborers together with God.” 1 Corinthians 3:9. He will use you and me and each human being who enters His service, if we will submit to His guidance. Each one is to stand in his watchtower, listening attentively to that which the Spirit has to say to him, remembering that his every word and act makes an impression, not only on his own character, but on the characters of those with whom he is connected.—Testimonies for the Church 8:172. VSS 50.1

Words of Love—Our duty is to live in the atmosphere of Christ's love, to breathe His love deeply, and to reflect its warmth around us. Oh, what a sphere of influence is open before us! How carefully we should cultivate the garden of the soul, so that it may bring forth only pure, sweet, fragrant flowers! Words of love, tenderness, and charity sanctify our influence over others.—Our High Calling, 175. VSS 50.2

A Savor of Life or Death—The words we utter today in the ears of the people, the works we are doing, the spirit of the message we are bearing, will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.—Testimonies for the Church 5:716. VSS 51.1

Blessing or Curse—Day by day we are sowing seeds for the future harvest. We cannot be too careful of the seed we sow by our words. Often words are carelessly spoken and forgotten, but these words, for good or ill, will bring forth a harvest. Sow one unkind, harsh word, and this seed, finding soil in the minds of the hearers, will spring up to bear fruit after its kind. Sow one seed in loving, gentle, Christlike words, and it will bring you rich returns. Let us guard ourselves, lest we speak words that are not a blessing, but a curse.—Our High Calling, 294. VSS 51.2

Which Controlling Power?—You cannot be too careful of what you say, for the words you utter show what power is controlling your mind and heart. If Christ rules in your heart, your words will reveal the purity, beauty, and fragrance of a character molded and fashioned by His will. But since his fall, Satan has been an accuser of the brethren, and you must be on guard lest you reveal the same spirit.—Mind, Character, and Personality 2:579, 580. VSS 51.3

Effective Living and Speaking—By the calmness of our conversation we can bear good witness for Him [God]. Correct living and correct speaking have a greater influence for good than all the sermons that can be preached.—Manuscript 65, 1901. VSS 51.4

Righteous words and deeds have a more powerful influence for good than all the sermons that can be preached.—My Life Today, 114. VSS 52.1

Judicious Conversation—Judicious conversation and right actions exert an influence which is a power in the right direction. But generally those who talk most are those who do the least deep, earnest thinking, the least work for the Master. They think that by talking they can make up for their deficiencies. But it is doers of the Word that are justified before God.—Manuscript 53, 1899. VSS 52.2

Connection Between Our Hearts and Our Words—We shall reveal what is in our hearts by the words we speak. The connection between the heart and the words of our mouth is very intimate, and by our words we shall be individually judged in the last day.... Our thoughts produce our words, and our words react upon our thoughts.—Letter 16a, 1895. VSS 52.3

An Indication of Character—The words are more than an indication of character; they have power to react on the character. Men are influenced by their own words. Often under a momentary impulse, prompted by Satan, they give utterance to jealousy or evil surmising, expressing that which they do not really believe; but the expression reacts on the thoughts. They are deceived by their words and come to believe that true which was spoken at Satan's instigation. Having once expressed an opinion or decision, they are often too proud to retract it, and try to prove themselves in the right, until they come to believe that they are. VSS 52.4

It is dangerous to utter a word of doubt, dangerous to question and criticize divine light. The habit of careless and irreverent criticism reacts upon the character in fostering irreverence and unbelief. Many a man indulging this habit has gone on unconscious of danger until he was ready to criticize and reject the work of the Holy Spirit.—The Desire of Ages, 323. VSS 53.1

Influence Outside the Church—The professed followers of Christ should realize that the influence of their words and acts not only has a bearing upon themselves, but extends outside the church. If they could see the mischief wrought by their careless words, the repetition of vague reports, the unjust censures, there would be far less talking and more praying when Christians assemble together.—The Review and Herald, October 19, 1886. VSS 53.2

Impact on Nonbelievers—The life, the words, and the deportment are the most forcible argument, the most solemn appeal, to the careless, irreverent, and skeptical. Let the life and character be the strong argument for Christianity; then men will be compelled to take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus and have learned of Him.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 478. VSS 53.3

Influence Even After Death—There are few who realize how far-reaching is the influence of their words and acts. How often the errors of parents produce the most disastrous effects upon their children and children's children, long after the actors themselves have been laid in the grave. Everyone is exerting an influence upon others, and will be held accountable for the result of that influence. Words and actions have a telling power, and the long hereafter will show the effect of our life here. The impression made by our words and deeds will surely react upon ourselves in blessing or in cursing. This thought gives an awful solemnity to life, and should draw us to God in humble prayer that He will guide us by His wisdom.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 556. VSS 54.1

A Thoughtless Word, a Soul's Eternal Destiny—Let none venture to speak lightly of the cautions given by those whose duty it is to guard their moral and spiritual welfare. The words may seem to be of little consequence, producing only a momentary impression on the minds of the hearers. But this is not all. In many cases these words find a response in the unsanctified hearts of youth who have never submitted to caution or restraint. The influence of a thoughtless word may affect a soul's eternal destiny. Every person is exerting an influence upon the lives of others.—Testimonies for the Church 4:654. VSS 54.2

Words Fitly Spoken—The world is indeed full of hurry, and of pride, selfishness, avarice, and violence; and it may seem to us that it is a waste of time and breath to be ever in season and out of season, and on all occasions to hold ourselves in readiness to speak words that are gentle, pure, elevating, chaste, and holy, in the face of the whirlwind of confusion, bustle, and strife. And yet words fitly spoken, coming from sanctified hearts and lips, and sustained by a godly, consistent Christian deportment, will be as apples of gold in pictures of silver.... VSS 54.3

You are not to wait for great occasions, or to expect extraordinary abilities, before you work in earnest for God. You need not have a thought of what the world will think of you. If your intercourse with them and your godly conversation are a living testimony to them of the purity and sincerity of your faith, and they are convinced that you desire to benefit them, your words will not be wholly lost upon them, but will be productive of good.—Testimonies for the Church 3:247. VSS 55.1

Behavior Consistent With Words—If we desire to reform others we must ourselves practice the principles which we would enforce upon them. Words, however good, will be powerless if contradicted by the daily life. Ministers of Christ, I admonish you: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine.” Do not excuse sins in yourselves which you reprove in others. If you preach on meekness and love, let these graces be exemplified in your own life. If you urge others to be kind, courteous, and attentive at home, let your own example give force to your admonitions.—Testimonies for the Church 5:160. VSS 55.2

Denial of Christ by Evil Speaking—He who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in him. He cannot communicate that which he has not received. The disciples might speak fluently on doctrines, they might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless they possessed Christlike meekness and love, they were not confessing Him. A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ would deny Him, whatever the profession. Men may deny Christ by evilspeaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind.—The Desire of Ages, 357. VSS 56.1

The Cause of Nine-Tenths of Church Difficulties—Unchristlike speech lies at the foundation of nine-tenths of all the difficulties that exist in the church. Satan's agents are industriously trying to get professed Christians to speak unadvisedly. When they succeed, Satan exults, because God's followers have hurt their influence.—The Review and Herald, November 24, 1904. VSS 56.2

Disparaging Remarks—Many today feel at liberty to use the talent of speech recklessly, without thinking of the influence their words will have upon others. The Lord sends His messages by whom He will, and those who make disparaging remarks of the messengers and the message need to remember that they would speak in the same way of Christ if He should come to them as He came to the Jews, with a message that did not suit their unrenewed hearts. Those who use their speech to mimic the one who is speaking the words of God are charged with having done this to Christ; for it is done to Him in the person of His saints.—The Review and Herald, January 18, 1898. VSS 56.3

Influence of Angry Words—Oh, that those who are proclaiming the most solemn message ever given to the world would realize how greatly their influence is weakened when they are suspicious of their brethren, when they allow angry words to pass their lips! The displeasure of God rests upon everyone who speaks harsh, unkind words.—The Review and Herald, July 21, 1903. VSS 57.1

Confidence in Brethren—By sowing evil in the minds of the weak, who have no vital connection with God, by telling them how little confidence you have in others, you tear away the hold their brethren have on them, because you destroy their confidence in them. But do not allow the enemy so to use your tongue; for at the day of final reckoning, God will call you to give an account of your words. Do not exert an influence that will break the hold of any trembling soul from God. Even though you are not treated as you think you should be, do not allow the root of bitterness to spring up; for thereby many will be defiled. By your words you may cause others to become suspicious.—The Review and Herald, August 24, 1897. VSS 57.2

Ruin of the Weak in the Faith—Do not allow the devil to use your tongue and your voice to ruin those weak in the faith; for at the day of final reckoning God will call upon you to give an account of your work.—The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 3:1161. VSS 57.3

Permanent Effect of Foolish Words—As professed Christians, we should consider the influence our words have upon those with whom we come into association, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Our words are watched, and mischief is done by thoughtless utterances. No after association with believers or unbelievers will wholly counteract the unfavorable influence of thoughtless, foolish words. Our words evidence the manner of food upon which the soul feeds.—The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 3:1159, 1160. VSS 58.1

Power of Example—When a crisis comes in the life of any soul, and you attempt to give counsel or admonition, your words will have only the weight of influence for good that your own example and spirit have gained for you.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 127. VSS 58.2