The words we speak are real. Our words can inspire and they can wound. Words can give hope or they can stir up anger and mistrust. Words can build up and they can tear apart. Words can sooth a burn and they can spark a fire. Our words, written or spoken, are how we interact with the world around us and with the souls around us.
In recent days I have been learning – slowly for sure – that my own words have an impact. I have two young daughters. They hear not just my spoken words, but also the words I’m not speaking. I had opportunities to share on a bigger platform and I realized that my words can impact far beyond my intentions. As we watch the news (or read the newspaper!), we see that words alone can escalate or deescalate tensions between nations.
There is a passage in the book of Hebrews that describes God’s words. We learn that the Father’s words are sharp, decisive, penetrating, and precise. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)
Seeing the sharpness of these words makes we wonder how dull my words might be. If the Father’s words are a sword, am I using a club? If the Father’s words are precise, are my words chaotic and undisciplined?
It is no mistake that James also addressed words. “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” (James 1:27 NLT) James went on to describe the tongue as “a flame of fire.” James went further on, “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10 NLT)
James had a point. This is not right. It is not okay for life and destruction to come from the same place. Which will it be? Will your words build up or will your words tear down? Will your words bring peace or will your words spread venom?
For those walking with Christ, our words have a greater significance than we often care to admit. And really, that is true of everyone. Words are real.
“Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11 NLT)
May our words be precise – precise enough to cut out injustice and despair, precise enough to represent well the God of all Creation. May our actions bring glory to God through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.