“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Words have power. Words can heal, and words can destroy. How many times have you seen someone’s face light up because of the encouraging words you spoke to them? And how many times have wished you could take back harsh words spoken in the heat of the moment? Perhaps you will remember the little song from childhood whose chorus has these words, “…if you can’t say something nice, don’t talk at all is my advice.” The composer of the song certainly understood the power of words.
Speaking of the tongue, from which words come, the apostle James says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” One only needs to glance at Twitter to figure out how true this is. Words have power to bless or to curse. Words can build up or break down. Throughout history, world wars often started with fighting words. Indeed, we believe what we think, and we become (or act on) what we speak.
God gave us the standard for how words should be used. He spoke the world into existence in Genesis 1, with the words, “Let there be….” He charted the course of Israel’s history with words and instructed the Israelites to hold his words close (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9; 11: 18-21). Years later, God launched salvation’s story with words through the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:30). Jesus gave Christians their marching orders with this powerful command, “Go therefore, and make disciples…. (Matthew 28:18-20), and he rebuked the Pharisees with words, “You hypocrites!...(Matthew 15:7). Every significant event in the Bible begins with God’s Word. There’s no way around it, words have power! God’s Word has ultimate truth and power.
Words, words, words we use them every day. Therefore, ask yourself, “Do my words build others up, or do they break others down? Do my words impart wisdom or are they just empty chatter? Do my words reflect the mind of Christ, or are they carnal?” As the writer of Proverbs reminds us: “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).” In a world, where words are frequently used to wield violence against others, God calls believers to use words to sow peace and light. How will you use your words today?
Loving Father, thank you for the gift of words. Touch my lips today, so that I might sow wisdom, encouragement and peace with my words. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, bring you glory and honor. Amen.