The Words To Choose (if you are provoked)

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? (James 3)

Thanks for clarifying, James:)

The words I choose to use in any encounter with you – hopeful or hurtful – pull back an inner curtain to my own heart. What I say, and how I say it, exposes who I really am.


Not to be too dramatic right off the bat, but the way I wield my words when I’m provoked sheds light on the condition of my own soul.

When I feel maligned or misunderstood, how I respond to you unlocks the door to the real me. What will I say, now? When I suffer – if your words offend me and I’m stung – my reaction to you will be telling. How will I speak, now?

Every word springs from what’s stored in the heart. No thing is wasted.


If my first response to your words is also biting and harsh, what does that say about me? When I secretly hope that my words will cut you down a size – leave a mark that you won’t soon forget – what does that say about me?

If I leave no room for peace with you, no space for better understanding you, what does that say about me?

It’s God’s word – not mine – that divides soul and spirit, joint and marrow. It’s only the active, double-edged (s)word of our Maker that penetrates the inner places, judging the thoughts and attitudes of every human heart.

It’s always a good day when I remember that I am not God.


Argh! I forget this so quickly. I assume to know what makes you tick. Without thinking, I label you after one encounter, and decide if you are worthy of my respect or scorn. Even though we might never have met, I presume to know where you’re coming from, where you are going, and how you are so misguided. I’m quick – eager even – to dismiss you, to keep you at arm’s length, to put you back in your rightful place.

I don’t make a very good god.

The true God opens his arms, welcomes in, and gave up his rightful place. Even though he knows exactly where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and how we are so misguided, he is not eager to condemn. He is eager to reconcile and make beauty from ashes.


The word of God searches the heart, and examines the mind. What does he find there? If you are ever stumped by this, consider your words and your tone when you are offended. Are they impartial and sincere? Are they considerate, and full of mercy? When you are hurt, is the goal of your communication to be friend, or foe?

My words, and their delivery, are a reflection of my heart – not an indication of yours.  They are a tuning fork for what lies deep inside of me. What pitch is resonating to the world? Is it tuned towards the dark, or the light?

God’s words bring dead things to life. His words – not mine – can melt a heart of stone as easily as they can part the sea. His voice summons the sun each morning, and raises the dead. When God speaks, beauty is born. He can help us with our words.


We don’t make good gods, saints, but we can change our pitch to better reflect the character of a God who is good. The words we choose can reveal a heart that knows where it’s been, and where it’s going. With God’s help, we can speak beauty into the barren places, order into the chaos, and light into the dark.

Peace to you, and more grace for today,


IMG_6817(All images and content are the property of Given Breath)

27 responses to The Words To Choose (if you are provoked)

  1. kim s says:

    Beautiful, beautiful words…simply beautiful!!!!!!!!! Thank you for inspiring me!

  2. Mary Ann says:

    These are beautiful words and pictures, thank you for connecting us back to God’s Character as a model for responding in all situations. Very Thought provoking. I am glad to be recieving your blogs, please continue to share what’s on your heart for our Lord.
    Could you also share where these pictures are from? Looks like Italy.
    Mary Ann

  3. April says:

    Very well said! Beautiful post and pictures.

    PS I will be sharing this on my Facebook Page, Thoughts From The Porch….check it out!

  4. Vicki says:

    Wise words indeed! Harder to put into practice unfortunately – we just have to keep trying.

  5. DJ Mynatt says:

    Wow! Your words speak so urgently to my heart. I too often feel defensive or defeated. I want God’s love to show through my words. Many people do not think the ‘tone’ matters; I feel it matters a great deal. I could go on and on… Thank you so much for such an inspiring post, Kim. Blessings to you.

  6. JCMorrows says:

    A friend directed me to your blog and I am so excited this was the first post I saw when I visited.
    Very well-said! If only more people in the world followed such great advice.
    Oh well, we can only control our own choices and leave the rest to God!
    And Pray!…of course.

  7. Lois Catlin says:

    This is so beautiful, thanks for the reminder.

  8. writingjen says:

    As a fellow writer, I know how important words are. I need to guard my words so much more carefully. Thank you, Kim, for such a vital reminder. XO Jen

  9. Given Breath says:

    It’s impossible on our own, isn’t it? You can see how we’re told to pray without ceasing:)

  10. Given Breath says:

    Yes – tone is so very important, and speaks so loudly. We all get defensive and defeated, DJ, but God’s mercies are new for us every morning. Press on – and thank you for the note.

  11. writingjen says:

    Thank you for supporting my blog! I am honored. I’m starting a “25 Days of Christmas” series on December 1st. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating all things Christmas. Is it ok if I post a link of your blog on my blog? I’d love to encourage my readers (all 2 of them..ha!) to follow your blog. Have a wonderful weekend, Kim! XO Jen

  12. Rebeca Jones says:

    “With God’s help, we can speak beauty into the barren places, order into the chaos, and light into the dark.” I love these words! To be brutally honest here, my first reaction is usually ugly. I too make a poor god. But you have perfectly worded here what my heart’s desire is–and it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that I will be able to accomplish that. Beautiful post.

  13. Anna says:

    Wow. Well-written and timely. Humbling. I too do not make a very good god. I love that you don’t end at simply examining ourselves but point back to God and his word. This is something I’d like to come back and read often.

  14. Kim, My daughter-in-law pointed me to your site when you had words about modesty especially for young teens. She is the mother of my two young teen granddaughters and the words were so timely and reinforced her teachings to the girls. I subscribed to your blog the see what Kim will write today. I have to say your words are inspiring. I am a cradle Roman Catholic Christian and I love my faith, try to practice it all of the time. It is almost uncanny how frequently your thoughts fold in perfectly with the scripture that I am reading that day. You are very talented and I thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  15. Livesey girl says:

    Wow this post resonates like no other. I’m so glad God put this message on your heart to share. Just what I needed to hear and work on. Thank you x

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