Recently, I was greatly disturbed by one word in a text message. It got me thinking about how powerful that one word was in manipulating my feelings, actions, perception, and productivity. Crazy, I know. It was not even that serious...I later concluded. But, I had to know what that word represented. Disrespect? Dissatisfaction? Discord? I know I am not alone in responding to words or a word in such a way, so I decided to write out my thoughts. Why are words so powerful? How should we use words? What does the Bible say about words? What's the most powerful word of all? Let's talk about it.
They are the most powerful entity. Words have the power to build or destroy...to comfort you or enrage you ...to give you peace or start a war...to give you hope or steal it away...to begin a new love or end it...to warm your heart or break it...to free slaves or take prisoners...to uphold justice or hinder it....to give life or take it. Nothing else can do ALL these things.
The tongue has the power of life and death. ~Proverbs 18:21
They linger. We may not remember the date, the time, the company, the place, the smells, or the temperature, but somehow - as if a curse has been inflicted - you remember the words that were said and how they made you feel when you heard them or read them. Yes, they linger, dreadfully so. When the words are lovely, it's as if we have an ending well of liquid joy. When the words are hateful or hurtful, suddenly we've won a lifetime supply of pricks to the heart. Who wants that? No one! Even when faced with difficult conversations, why can't we all choose to be wells? Or at least a bucket? A cup? Don't we all deserve at least a cup of liquid joy? Supply some. It's within our power to.
Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? ~Job 6:25
They manifest dreams and create realities. God created all there is - not with the work of His mighty hands - with words. Everything He conceived in His mind to see, He then spoke into existence. As children of God, we too have the power to speak our dreams into existence. Our realities are built with faith (what we do not see yet believe) and words (speaking our faith). Start building.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. ~Genesis 1:3
They can foster unity between two or more people or spur division. I say "go." You say "stop." Immediate division. I say "no." You say "yes." Immediate harm. I say "right now." You say "never." Immediately the yoke is broken. Divisions can be mended. Hurts can be healed. Broken yokes can be fixed. Two can either talk their way to healing or continue going their separate ways. The choice is theirs.
How can two walk together unless they agree? ~Amos 3:3
We use them to communicate what mere humans cannot see, feel, or know for themselves. Sometimes our words don't convey our sentiments justly. In truth, how could they? Our personal lexicons are tremendously limited. And we - and I do mean we - the listener and the speaker - have such a limited understanding of words and their history, their context, and their connotation - that any agreement between two people is both superficial and a miracle.
Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. ~Habakkuk 2:2
They are demanding and selfish. Words require the right time, right place, right circumstances, right history, right person, right attitude, right tone, right schema, right intent, right diction to be received, understood, and interpreted purely. No wonder we can't get it right! But I dare say that if the intent in speaking and listening is love - and only love - then the heart become more powerful than words. Love knows that we are not perfect. Love knows that words only convey the truth we are willing to surrender. Love knows that words are empowered by actions, and actions can take back their power at any moment truth chooses. If words must travel, let love take them.
Love covers a multitude of sins. ~1 Peter 4:8