Christians of all people should love words. God created language and speaks to us on the pages of Scripture. Jesus is the Word and spoke all things into existence. The Bible is overflowing with teaching (using words) on many subjects, including how we should use our words. Proverbs alone has plenty of discussion on the trajectory of words.
Journal-keeping can be a positive way to use words if the journal-keeper is wise. I think I learned this from my son: writing is a little like cooking. Don’t overcook it. Don’t serve it raw. Add the right seasonings. Make it beautiful to behold. And hope your readers enjoy your cooking. Words are not neutral or unimportant to God. He hears, He reads, even our thoughts. He sees and reads our writing. Does it please Him?
Consider this handful of Proverbs that teach us the benefits of a wise tongue: “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life” (Prov. 10:11); “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver” (Prov. 10:20); “The lips of the righteous feed many” (Prov. 10:21); “The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel” (Prov. 20:15); “A word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Prov. 15:23); “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge” (Prov. 15:7). A good journal is nourishing to the reader and the writer.
As you may have guessed, many of those quotations above are just half of the proverb. I haven’t done a count, but I am guessing there are more Proverbs dealing with the negative nature of the tongue. Here are a few to prove my point: “The mouth of a fool is near destruction” (Prov. 10:14); “The mouth of fools feeds on foolishness” (Prov. 15:14); “In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19); “He who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Prov. 13:3). Careless words, written and spoken, are destructive. Loose lips sink ships.
And we haven’t even looked at the New Testament yet. Women in particular are singled out with a warning in 1 Timothy 5:13: “And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” Foolish writing is a type of wandering and idleness. Many a journal entry ought not to have been written.
I’m not going to do an exhaustive Bible study here. I’m simply saying that we should and must guard our tongues in all things spoken and written: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life” (Prov. 13:3). Psalm141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Our pens need watchmen and guards just like our mouths. And the fact that a journal is “private”does not mean the words can be left unguarded.
The Scriptures do not take words lightly, nor should we. Thomas Brooks said, ” Light words weigh heavy in God’s balance.”
James calls the tongue “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). Paul warns against “foolish talking” (Eph. 5:4) and writes that we are to speak to one another in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs….giving thanks always for all things…” (5:19-20). In Philippians he tells us to meditate on the pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). In Colossians he wraps up a passage on Christian living with this: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom….And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). Whatever we do with words should be done in Jesus name, Amen.
Words are something we use every day, and if we take all the warnings of Scripture to heart, we will be very cautious people when it comes to handling words. When we write or speak, we should be thinking about whether our words are pleasing to the Lord Jesus. Do they show gratitude to God the Father? Are they wise, virtuous, praiseworthy? If we think about this seriously, we will write fewer words.
We all stumble in many ways, says James. And we all stumble with our words in many ways. So we should pay attention. Listen to your words whether they are spoken or written, whether they are via texting or emailing or blogging or journaling. We are accountable for every single word we speak and write.
We live in immodest times and women lack propriety and discretion. Careless writing can be a form of exhibitionism. Let’s use journal-writing as a regular practice session for modesty, discretion, and wisdom. When you sit down to write, pray for wisdom. Ask for an armed guard.
Our of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What we write in our journals comes straight out of our hearts. Is it good? If it isn’t, then we need to get our hearts cleansed first. Then fill up your journal with words. Funny words. Enjoyable words. Stories. Poems. Jokes. Bible verses. Quotes from other writers. Things we’ve learned in sermons. Things we’ve learned from friends and family.
Life is short. Write good words.