The ripple effect of the words we use

Melissa Fletcher
 |  Fuel for the Soul

There’s a river that runs through my town. As a kid, I used to stand on the bank of the river and skip rocks across the top, counting the number of skips to the other side. I also would try to find a large rock to throw in the water and watch the ripples, all the while counting how many of the rings were the result of that one good toss.

Today, I still enjoy skipping rocks, but the “Ripple Effect” has taken on a whole new meaning. The Bible says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences” (Proverbs 18:21). Our words are powerful. What comes out of our mouth can bring life or death to the person hearing it, meaning they can be encouraged and edified, or insulted, ridiculed or crushed in spirit. And, just like the rock thrown into the water, our words can produce a ripple effect that can affect the lives of many people.

For example, if someone grew up in a verbally abusive home, the words they heard could have brought about anger, condemnation and shame. That person may then in turn use the same language in their own family and friend groups, which can send forth another ripple of negativity and hurt. The Ripple Effect has the opportunity to keep moving on causing words of “death” to be spoken and can lead to damage in relationships.

The good news is that the Ripple Effect can work in another way that will produce positive and encouraging consequences. If words of life, love, honor, and support are spoken, those hearing these things will tend to repeat the same encouraging words creating a new ripple. In this case the Ripple Effect is producing “life”. In either situation, we have the ability to choose what comes out of our mouth.

What kind of Ripple Effect do you have? Are your words producing life or death? I challenge you this week to monitor your words and see how they are impacting those around you. Make it a point to toss out some powerful words that speak life, and then watch the Ripple Effect it will produce in others. The world will be a much better place if we stopped throwing stones of hatred and instead spread “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Let this new Ripple Effect begin with you!