Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Power of Words

Most of us if not all have heard the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."  Now everyone who believes that, raise your hand... I doubt any of us raised our hands (except maybe those who just do that sort of thing to be contrary/funny). And the reason no one believes that phrase, is because most of us at some point or another have been hurt by words... or perhaps have hurt someone else with our words- through careless words... gossip... words overheard by the person who was never to hear them... But don't worry, I won't ask anyone to raise their hands on that one.  Instead I'll ask you to open your hearts and minds to the power of words and prayerfully consider the ones you choose to say.

Because words do have power.  Think about it, God spoke creation into being.  Obviously, God's are the most powerful words ever and his word speaks to our choice of words over and over:

Ephesians 4:29- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 15:18- But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Proverbs 12:18- There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Matthew 12:36- I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Proverbs 16:24- Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Colossians 3:8- But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 
And James devotes many verses describing the power in the tongue in James 3:1-12:
"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."
What we say is so important.  And though the Bible was written many years ago, I think in today's terms the Bible's warnings about what we say not only includes the words spoken from our mouths, but also the words we type!  Today's technology has replaced face to face interactions with screen to screen interactions between people.  And just because the words aren't physically spoken by the tongue they should still be held to the same standards as words we speak out of our mouths.

The words written on social media, in emails, in comments, in texts can still sting with the same fire that the spoken word can.  And in most cases it seems that people now feel more "free" to write what they actually think from behind the safety of the screen and though I know why they may feel more safe it can still be hurtful and perhaps best left unsaid.

I've mentioned before that I read several blogs and I also at times peruse the comments.  I don't always do this, though because it saddens me that people feel they must "blast" people for having a differing opinion than them.  There are ways to share different opinions without becoming angry or mean.  And though you may not think that your comments are mean, think first before you say them- are they good, are they useful, do they build up or tear down?  If someone said this same thing to me, how would I take it?  Remember the verses listed above and use them as a checklist. Also, if something someone does makes you angry, it is far better to take a break and step away for a time before responding- if a response is needed at all. 

We live in a fallen world and if you haven't already, then you probably will experience negative comments (either spoken, typed, or hand written) that will hurt you.  I encourage you, to right then and there, pray!  You won't feel like it, believe me I know, but if you seek to be a mature godly woman (or man) then you need to pray for strength to get past the hurt.  Pray for God to tame your tongue.  And pray for God to help you forgive that person.  Then pray for that person, and not a negative prayer for God to "take care of them" but genuinely for them.  Perhaps they are misguided in their information, or they are going through a tough time. Or they may just be a hurtful person- but they still need Jesus, so be an example of him in your dealings with them.  And if you are the one who "spoke" the negative words, then I recommend prayer and confession, then deleting them if possible and apologizing to the person or people you hurt. 

Pray before you speak and pray before you type.

*Updated -I was doing my Bible study this morning and it was this passage from Colossians 3 that I had to add because it fits perfectly with this post:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Oh that we would actually "put on" kindness, humility, meekness, patience, compassion and love. Forget that the rest of the world hasn't, because they haven't.  You will be treated unfairly but the command is clear that Christians are to have those qualities.  Do you?

Love in Christ,