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
They come in groups. Good ones and bad ones. Acceptable ones and unacceptable ones. Positive ones and negative ones. Who decides? The speaker? The listener? They BOTH do. That is what makes communication so incredibly hurtful, challenging, and tempestuous. But, when you can muster the strength, selflessness, and courage to come to an understanding about words, it's truly an empowering, awakening, and liberating experience that two or more people share. Navigate the clutter. Love each other enough to sort the words and discuss connotations that have - perhaps even unreasonably - scared and haunted you from those that have healed you.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. ~Ephesians 4:31
Some words favor our lovers, and others favor our family, friends, and foes. Should words meant for our foes ever be spoken to our lover? Is there ever a circumstance - playfully or not - that is worthy of such collusion? If so, what will my lover's foes have left to say about him? How would you recognize your enemy if your community - people who have used words to confess their love and loyalty to you - uses the words of an aggressor, bully, offender, or instigator? Moreover, isn't "just kidding" a way for us to say what we really feel without hurting someone's feelings? News flash, "just kiddings" still hurt and leave behind remnants of stinging truths. We need only to listen closely to know how someone truly feels.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. ~1 Peter 2:1
They are manufactured in the heart. They are made of feelings, memories, and experiences. So, words can be pure or they can impure; consumed of light or darkness, but they cannot be both sugar and salt. The taste of the words lingering in our mind is sure to tell the difference. If you say you did not mean what you said, are you sure? Perhaps, a more transparent response is, "I don't want to mean what I said. I don't want to feel this way anymore."
For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. ~Luke 6:45
Jesus - our wonderful Savior - is a word. Of course, the most precious word - the Word of God - but, nonetheless, a word. Everything that was, is, and will be is through Jesus Christ - a word, The Word. Meaning, everything we were, we are, and we shall be is in That Word, Jesus. Everything. Salvation, healing, reconciliation, victory, love, hope, faith, joy, and peace all come through Jesus. For this reason, we must seal every prayer in the powerful name Jesus. For words to triumph over darkness, they must be of Jesus. For words to break curses, they must be of Jesus. For words to be heard in heaven and manifested on Earth, they must be of Jesus. Read the Word. Study the Word. Our power is the Word - Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1
God, help us to use our words as light, salt, and love in all things and at all times. In Jesus' name, Amen.