Faith: Our words have power
May 17, 2018
Words are everywhere. We read them, write them, hear them. We use them to praise and curse; reveal and conceal; create and destroy. They help us connect with each other and tear us apart. They express joy, happiness, love, hope, sorrow, grief, pain and desolation. Once words are "out there," they cannot be called back.
We try to diminish the negative effects with a laugh: "I was only kidding!" Or, even worse, we write off their response — something is obviously wrong with them. They are too sensitive, can't take a joke, are a jerk; so I am not at fault for the scars my words may leave on someone's soul or psyche.
Why do our words have so much power? I believe it's because they come from the core of our being. Jesus said our mouths speak from "that which fills the heart" (Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45). So, the words are propelled or powered by the emotion that is in our hearts.
For example: "Let's keep in touch" can be a statement of commitment, something said casually because I want to stop talking to you or something I would like to do, but unless I make an effort, it won't happen. There's a good chance you would know if I really wanted to keep in touch with you by the tone of my voice if we are speaking and based on the relationship (or lack of one) we already have. Our actions reinforce our words, because our actions are also motivated by "that which fills the heart."
You probably know someone whose words "are as smooth as butter, but he harbors animosity in his heart. His words seem softer than oil, but they are really like sharp swords" (Psalm 55:21). You also know (and almost always enjoy being with) someone whose "heart makes his speech wise and it adds persuasiveness to his words. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:23, 24)
Words are used by people to bully, abuse, terrorize and fight or to uplift, heal, bring peace and share love. We all are feeding one side or the other with what we say and how we say it. For those who follow Jesus, our words also bring glory or dishonor to His name. The apostle James says, "With it (our tongue) we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in Godʼs image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters." (James 3:9-10)
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We are called to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and ambassadors of God's kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20). What we say matters — to God and to those who hear us speak and read what we write or tweet. King David had the right focus when he wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14) May that always be our prayer and focus.
Victoria Van Couvering is executive director of Yampa Valley Pregnancy and Family Center.