Our words matter. This past week, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American. Perhaps you saw the inauguration when Judge John Roberts quoted the Constitution to swear Obama in. Obama paused during his restatement of the oath which threw Roberts off and he misquoted the proper words. The flub was heard and commented on around the globe. Later that night, Roberts came to Obama in the White House to repeat the oath and properly swear Obama in. The reason: words matter.

This message is meant to show that everything matters; our thoughts, our speech, our actions. Teens must be reminded of this simple principle because a life played out in the context of relationships without this principle is disastrous. The consequences of sin does not escape anyone, including Christians! Even as Christians, we must guard our hearts and minds to not become desensitized to worldly ways. Teens often can often grow cold to Christ and his message and so begins the attitude of IDC: “I Don’t Care”. These words and attitudes are pervasive, and probably so in every new generation.[1] As we examine a few verses, one should consider that caring is of crucial importance as we live in contact with those around us.

Proverbs 18:21-22 “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

The author of these proverbs understands things matter. Words matter and friends matter. Our words can hurt and wound or they can heal and inspire. Proverbs goes a step further saying they can give life or death. Wow, that’s powerful! And those who understand this little principle will reap the rewards. Think about it, when is the last time you were wounded by careless, wreckless, idle words? Do you remember how long it took you to get over them? Was it hours, days, months… do you still feel the pain? The things we say and communicate to one another really do matter. At the same time, I know the effect and power words of encouragement can instill. When someone comes along side of you and speaks such words it is like refueling an empty car. You see, everyone needs a friend to speak words of life and hope. This is why God gives friends.

The reason friendship exists is so we are motivated to not give up. God wants us to keep our focus on him and serving others. However, due to the typical life challenges we can easily become discouraged and burned out. We need subtle, if not direct, reminders that what we do matters. This is the power of words and friendships. What kind of friend are you? Are you an IDC friend or one who is willing to break the mold and say, “I DO CARE”?

· Look for someone in your youth group or school who needs a friend. You can tell who they are because no one sits around them or they are extremely quiet. Go and talk to them with genuine interest. Ask them questions so you’re not doing all the talking. Perhaps God may have a plan for your new friendship.
· Explain the importance and power of words when it comes to relationships.
· Verses in the book of Proverbs are often unrelated. Though, when they are they seem to be powerfully important. What do you think is the connection between Proverbs 18:21 and 18:22?
· Illustrate on paper using Proverbs 18:21-22 and James 3:2-12.
· What are some helps to caution the way you speak toward others?

[1] One reference that is helpful to me in understanding how to communicate with IDC teens is The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Summer of 2005, vol 23, no 3. This specific volume addresses IDC teens in several helpful articles. To name a few, “What is ‘Success’ in Parenting Teens?”, “Why Do Kids Turn Out the Way They Do?”, “Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children”, and my favorite, “Counseling Angry, Unmotivated, Self-Centered, and Spiritually-indifferent Teens”. What a title!?!

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