Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Power of Words

Photo by nathanmac87
Words Are Powerful Things

Lately, I have been reminded of the power of the words that I and others choose to use. Words have the power to build someone up, and words have the power to tear someone down. The words that we choose to use combined with our tone of voice can be a powerful force as well.

For those of us who are parents, I think we probably all at least have a head knowledge as well as working experience with this. I know that with my two daughters, I catch myself all the time now thinking about the words and tone I have been using with them. I start asking myself questions such as, "Am I being to harsh with my girls right now?", "Is there a better, gentler way I could be communicating the same thoughts with them?", "If I were one of my daughters, would I appreciate how I'm speaking to them this very minute?"

Consider the truth of the power of the tongue as described in James 3:3-12:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 
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. 
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
In light of this powerful Scripture passage, we could all do a better job in controlling the words that come out of our mouths.

Biblical Wisdom

God's Word contains practical wisdom on using our tongue for a force of good to those around us. Here are just two simple suggestions based on multiple verses in the Bible:
  • Use wisdom when you speak and refrain from talking if necessary. Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue (Proverbs 11:12). Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity (Proverbs 21:23). Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless (James 1:26).
  • Use soothing, healing words when you speak to those around you. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18). The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Words Have The Power Of Life And Death

From both a practical and spiritual standpoint, we know that words from those who have influence in our lives have a powerful impact on us. Proverbs 18:21 states, The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

When I think back on key, positive, pivotal points in my life, I recall influential people who came alongside me and spoke truthful, encouraging, correcting, loving, and healing words. They may not have always been the words that I wanted to hear, but they were definitely the words that I needed to hear at that point in my life. As God spoke to these influencers, they listened to His voice and allowed His words to flow through them to me. I'm grateful that they were obedient to God and He was able to use them for good in my life.

And, I can also look back at some of the more difficult times in my life when people spoke to me who were not under the control of the Holy Spirit. They spoke harsh, negative words of death to me. They were running their own agenda. They had no concern how their words impacted my life.

Go Out And Make A Difference

You have a choice today. You have a choice to speak words of life or words of death to people. You can be a force for positive influence in people's lives through the way you speak to them, or you can be a negative, destructive force in their lives.

Consciously evaluate your speech on a regular basis. Have you fallen into negative, destructive speech habits that maybe you weren't even aware of? If so, what do you need to do to turn that around in order to speak life-giving words to those around you that you love?

You can make a powerful difference in somebody's life today through the words that you choose to use. Choose wisely.

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