Solomon writes, “From the fruit of their lips people eat what is good, but the unfaithful desire violence” (Prov. 13:2, author’s translation). The faithful speak wise, helpful, kind, thoughtful words to their friends. They use careful, not reckless, words. The fruit (result) of their words is good things. They’ll “eat what is good”; not literally, but they’ll enjoy the good fruit that comes from godly words. The faithless are the exact opposite—they prefer to destroy with their words.
Think of the last fight you had. If you trust Christ, if you know Christ’s forgiveness, if you’ve grounded your life in truth, the overflow of your heart (and your mouth) are good things—kindness, patience, hopefulness, and forgiveness.
“What? My fights are not like that,” you say. That’s probably because you are faithless in the middle of the battle. You forget about God in your anger. Your myopic view is on your opponent. You quarrel, throwing heated arguments at them. You make your spouse, or coworker, or parent (or whomever you are arguing with) an enemy rather than a friend. You use biting, sarcastic, or vengeful words. Maybe even cruel. You curse. You scream. Your words are weapons of war, not love. Your goal is to hurt your enemy. “You’re stupid.” “I can’t believe I married you.” “Get out of my face.” “I’m done with you.”
You may never hit the person, but your words are violent. They bring death, not life (Prov. 18:21).
Sin begets sin. What starts as a simple conversation escalates into a white-hot, frustrating fight. What a mess.
You might think, “My fights are not nasty.” You’re not off the hook. Do your fights take on any of these elements? Are you ever mean? Do you say hurtful words? Are you ever angry unrighteously? Do you argue? Bicker? Belittle? Interrupt? Scold? Mock? Your fights may not be nuclear, but you allow for small acts of violent words.
Here’s my advice: Repent (Mark 1:15). Renounce your sin and reject it. Confess to God first (Ps. 51:4), and then confess to your friend (James 5:16). Tell the offended party how your sin affected their life. Apologize (Matt. 5:23–24; 1 Thess. 5:13) and ask their forgiveness (Luke 17:3–4).
With Christ’s help, you can live faithfully, even in the middle of a fight. Nothing is impossible for our merciful God. Do you believe this? If you don’t, say along with the father who asked Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Faith in Christ gives you eyes to see what seems impossible during conflict. By God’s grace, your violent words can change. You don’t have to respond with sin. Violence is returned with hope and love. You don’t have to get angry or speak hastily. You can pray and seek the Father, even in the middle of the war. You don’t have to be reckless. You can be careful and gentle.
If you’ve struggled with violent words, don’t give up. God hasn’t given up, so neither should you.