There are some things that are worth reminding ourselves of on a regular basis and one of the those things is the power of our words. Here are some quotations for your enjoyment – “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plants the seeds of either success or failure in the mind of another.” ~ Napoleon Hill; “Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back nor ignore the mess that they leave when they fall.” ~ Jodi Picoult
More importantly, the Bible tells us over and over again the importance of governing our words, because of the power that’s contained in the words that we speak. Our words have the power to change our world, affect lives, give hope and inspire to action. At the same time, they can crush and destroy, stumble and shatter. Such is the power of words, that we’re told that we’ll be required to give an account for all the idle words that we’ve spoken in our lives (Matthew 12:36).
Because words come so easily to us when mingled with our emotions, therefore we’re exhorted to set a guard over our mouths and to keep watch over the door of our lips (Ps 141:3). We need to weigh our words properly before releasing them, remembering that they can cut sharper than a sword, and the wounds may last longer than physical ones. Here are some gentle reminders for us to consider:
1. Keep Our Words Clean
By this, I don’t just mean the removal of vulgarities and lewd words from our vocabulary. Incidentally, I recently heard from a member of the church who was enlisted for National Service of how his platoon commander had forbidden the use of vulgarities in his platoon. He put in place a punishment whereby every word of vulgarity heard would result in the offender having to write an essay, the length of which is determined by the number of letters in the vulgarity that was used. The basis of such a punishment, according to the commander, is to help the offender in his inability to properly express himself, resulting in him having to resort to coarse language. How apt, I thought.
Nonetheless, what I mean to include in this, is that we need to maintain a high level of integrity in our words. Coarse jesting, sarcasm, insults, half-truths, exaggerations, accusations, angry exclamations, hurtful words, gossips, slander – all these should cause us to blush because they deeply offend the Holy Spirit in us.
Our words are compared to the waters that come from a spring. No spring can produce both fresh and bitter water (James 3:11) and by that, the Lord meant to tell us that our words are a reflection of source that’s in us. If God be the true source within us, then it’ll be evident in our words. In the same manner, we’re told that out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks.
2. Keep Our Words Few
“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)
Again James counsels us that we should be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Unfortunately, for most people, this is easier said than done. We’re quick to give advice before hearing the person out. Ever ready to voice our opinions without studying the facts carefully. Eager to share what comes to our mind instead of learning to meditate and glean from our daily encounters. The result is shallowness, complaining and an inundated FaceBook feed (the last being a joke!).
3. Keep Our Words Loving
To keep our words loving doesn’t mean that we need to sugarcoat everything we say. The Bible tells us that we’re to speak the truth in love. It isn’t just about the content of what we say, but the way in which we say it. There are a hundred and one ways to say something, but the results on the hearer can be dramatically different depending of which way we choose. Our desire must always be for the long-term good of a person. Some people require a more forthright approach, while others need a gentler touch. It’s important that we place a love for people at the forefront of what we intend to say.
Often times, it’s the people that are closest to us, that we’re the most careless with our words. We put less effort into our attempts to communicate with them and end up using a hurried and harsher approach than what we would have towards others. Whether it be with our spouses or with our children – our words carry far more weight and we must not become complacent in these relationships.
4. Keep Our Words Effective
Finally, our words are meant to be effective. God did not permit any of Samuel’s words to fall to the ground and in the same manner, God wants to use the words of His Body to effect transformation, preserve righteousness and propagate the Gospel. The power of the words of the Church is amplified by a consistency between what we preach and how we live. In the same manner, God desires to clad His people with authority in their words to impact their environment.
I pray that we all be reminded of the power and potential of our words and use it wisely for His glory.