Life or Death?

Taking a walk in February, we were surprised to come up on this bunch of green floating on in a small stream. It seemed so out of place and time, surrounded by the dreary browns and grays of winter woods! I have to share a close-up of it.



Isn’t it pretty? It was especially striking in its setting. So of course I had to research as soon as I got home tofind out what it was. It goes by the lovely name of duckweed. I suppose if I was a duck, I would be ecstatic to discover this treasure trove! But alas, I am no duck. 

Duckweed is actually beneficial for many reasons. Because it takes its nutrients directly from the water instead of soil, it is used to purify wastewater (think sewage). It can also be used to feed cattle, poultry and fish. It has been studied around the world for these two very important properties, among others.

On the other hand, if duckweed finds its way into a pond with no circulation, it can easily overtake the entire surface of the water. Once this happens, the pond’s oxygen levels can be depleted, which can in turn kills any fish living there. It also blocks sunlight from any underwater plants, leading to their death as well.

So how do we mentally compartmentalize duckweed?  Helpful or harmful? Purifying or suffocating? Useful or nuisance? It seems that would depend on where it’s found, and whether or not we see a purpose for it.

Now turn those questions around, and apply them to the words we speak.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.  ~Proverbs 18:21

Which consequences are we aiming for? What situations are we currently facing, where our words could either bring life or death? Encouragement or criticism? Building up or tearing down?

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. ~James 1:19

Why should we be slow to speak? Because it gives us time to ponder how our words will affect the hearer. Finally,

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. ~Ephesians 4:29

“Everything” means “everything.” We need some serious help!! Okay, maybe you’ve got this under control, but I know I need serious help! Thank goodness I’m not alone. David prayed, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Now those are words I can wholeheartedly agree with.

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