Leaving a Legacy of Life-Giving Words

by Sally Clarkson January 16, 2023
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4 (NIV)

My mother was not a deeply educated theologian, but she had a very simple trust in God.

I still remember one special Christmas when I was about 9 years old. She and I sat by our towering Christmas tree aglow with white lights and colorful, shiny baubles adorning every branch. Sipping our hot chocolates, we sat shoulder to shoulder, taking in the magical moment together.

Out of the blue, she nudged me, looked very solemnly into my eyes, and said, “One thing is important for you to remember the rest of your life.”

I sat up straighter, sensing this was a profound moment.

She said very clearly, “These words from the Bible have carried me my whole life: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ Just remember: God is for you. He is on your side. He loves you just as you are. Say it with me: ‘If God is for me, who can be against me?’” (See Romans 8:31b, NIV.)

And so I did.

She continued, “There is one more of my favorite verses I want you to remember: ‘The LORD is my shepherd …’ You see, even as a shepherd cares for His sheep, feeds them, protects them, so God does with us — and will do for you. You will never be alone. He will be with you every day and watch over you. You can always trust Him to take care of you.” (See Psalm 23:1, NIV.)

We sat beside each other and drank in the beauty of the moment together. And I have never forgotten it.

Even though my mother’s words were simple and I did not understand them fully when I was 9, they planted a tiny seed of faith in my heart that has grown, like a tree, throughout my life. My mother left a small legacy of words that made a deep impression on me. Proverbs 15:4 exemplifies this truth about the power of words: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

Since then, I have believed that God is on my side. That He is for me, that He will take care of me. Those words have carried me through many a challenge in life. My mother gave me her words, and they have stayed with me my whole life, even as I can see my 70th year just ahead.

How many of us carry in our hearts words that were spoken to us as children — words that still hurt or words that carry God’s love right to our hearts? Words matter. We can leave messages of life and love with those we meet.

Words are like food to our hearts, minds and souls. They have the potential to shape destinies, inspire courage and instill character. Words can express assurance of love, shape our emotional health and lay foundations of truth that hold us fast our whole lives. Our words have the power to pass on a legacy of faith.

Shaping life-giving messages and building a legacy of unconditional love and faith requires intentionality. And it comes about as you give your words of affirmation to those around you as a habit of life.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving me loving and caring words that can hold me close to You for life. Help me realize how much my words can bring life and blessing to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


To understand more about how to use your words to leave a legacy of faith and love, enjoy reading Sally and Clay Clarkson’s book Giving Your Words: The Lifegiving Power of a Verbal Home for Family Faith Formation. The biblical principles and wisdom they offer, drawn from their years of raising four children and mentoring parents worldwide, will equip you as a word-giving parent. Gain confidence to personally and intentionally cultivate a verbal home filled with words of faith formation and spiritual nurture.



You can find more from Sally Clarkson at and enjoy her inspiring podcast At Home with Sally.


Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.” (GNT)

Write a gentle note to tell your child or friend that you love them.

How can you make your words more soothing? Share with us in the comments!

© 2023 by Sally Clarkson. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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