Toxic

District Fellowship News

July, August 2010


 The definition for oil is as follows: An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and is hydrophobic but soluble in organic solvents. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are non-polar substances. All oils can be traced back to organic sources.

Generally then all oils have some common characteristics, they all came from organisms, they generally are liquid and slippery, and they are composed of hydrogen and carbon, but there are differences. Crude oil, like that in the gulf carries with it many absorbable compounds that can make it dangerous to be immersed in or to consume or inhale. So just because they are both oils doesn’t mean they are the same. Things of the same name are very different. One is toxic, one is not, and it can be hard to tell the difference. 

The same thing can be said about our words. Words can be used to soothe broken hearts, mend destroyed relationships, encourage downtrodden souls. The positive effect words can have cannot be overestimated. Just as oil massaged into the skin can refresh and rejuvenate, words spoken from the heart can bring joy and wonder. But words can also ruin lives, rip families apart, lead people away from truth. The negative effects of words can bring about system wide failures. The same object can have both positive and negative effects.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul spends a lot of time warning the Corinthians against those who come to teach a different Jesus. He wrote, “You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” (1 Cor. 11:4). There were those who spoke in nice words but didn’t speak truth and those words negatively affected the Corinthians spiritually. “Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” (Rom 16:18) The words seemed fine, but they were bringing death. Just as the oil flowing from the bottom of the ocean is bringing a blight to the areas that it is touching, so words spewing from our hearts unchecked can bring a blight into the spiritual, emotional, and relational lives of those who are touched by them.

One other comparison can be helpful. Once the oil is released, it is very costly to clean up and leaves an impact on all the life it touches. The same is true of our words. When we release a torrent of words on the world around us, we must be sure that they are not contaminated with hurt, spite, anger, or deceit. Once they are said it becomes impossible to gather them back in. We cannot just round them up and make believe they were never said, and the filth that covers those who hear them is not easily cleaned. And yet, even when we realize the effect our words are having, capping the gusher is not easy. So what is the answer? 

First, realize words can give life or bring death. Check what you say through the filter of the Spirit. Let God refine your thoughts. Proverbs says, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.” When we allow God to clean up our heart, our words become sweeter. Second, let God help you discern the toxicity of the words spoken around you. Don’t listen to those who speak a “different truth” or those who spew lies and gossip. Those words will only contaminate you. And last, if you have been contaminated by toxic speech, go to the One who is the expert in decontamination. With God’s help, the effects of evil words can be minimized and purity can be restored. Toxic oil can hurt the physical world, but toxic words can impact body, soul, and spirit.