The Power of Words | April 6th, 2018
Words. We use them every day to communicate. People have always thought women speak many more words than men. Surprisingly, the latest research has found that men and women use approximately the same number of words a day!
A scientific study in 2007 led by Dr. Matthias Mehl, Psychology Professor and Director of the Naturalistic Observation of Social Interaction Laboratory at the University of Arizona, found, on average, that women speak 16,215 words per day compared to men’s 15,669.
So often, we neglect to give much thought to our words before they come out of our mouths. We are all guilty of being careless with what we say but we must realize words are not simply different sounds passing through our lips. Words have very real power. In fact, it was the power of God’s words that spoke the world into existence!
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:3
Power to Destroy and Build Up
We, too, have power in our words because we were made in God’s image. It is a unique gift from God to us, unlike any other living being on this planet, to be able to communicate with words.
Our words have the power to destroy. With words, good reputations have been damaged, stable careers have been devastated, and intimate relationships have been severed. The tongue, as small as it is, can cause massive destruction.
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. James 3:5
Our words also have the power to build up. Think about how you feel when someone sincerely praises you for something that they admire in you. You probably feel a huge boost in your spirit and incredibly encouraged. A good word spoken at the right time can be life changing!
But when words have been spoken that are harsh and hurtful toward you, it has the opposite effect, tearing you down and destroying your spirit. Words are powerful!
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
What exactly does this verse mean? Those who take pleasure in communicating with others will eat the fruit of their words meaning they will reap the consequences of what comes out of their mouth whether good or bad. If you are a talker like me, you probably need to put forth extra effort in thinking before you speak!
I have found Psalm 141:3 to be a great prayer for me to say quite frequently…
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
The Apostle Paul has good advice for those who follow Christ…
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
In Greek, the word unwholesome is sapros meaning “rotten.” The Bible includes slander, gossip, criticizing, arguing, complaining, boasting, lying, and filthy language as unwholesome talk. Also included is taking God’s holy name in vain by using it in an empty, dishonoring way such as in the common exclamation, “Oh my God.”
What a list of ways we can easily spew rotten words out of our mouth! God knew in advance it would be difficult for us to keep control of our tongue, so when we make a decision to follow Christ He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us know when we are sinning with our tongue.
I am always on the lookout for the most sparkly, vintage costume jewelry I can find for repurposing. Often times, after many years of wear, the rhinestones begin to darken. In jewelry terminology, a dull rhinestone that has turned from clear and sparkling to dull and gray is called a “dead” stone.
Nobody I know is attracted to jewelry with dead stones, so I always pass up those pieces without a second glance.
The dead stones that lack sparkle remind me of the words that can come out of our mouths if we are not careful. Jesus warns strongly against careless words:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37
Words have so much power when spoken that we are going to give an account of what we say when we stand before Jesus Christ. This may create a great deal of anxiety for you and many others, but know that He loves you no matter how much you sin with your words. And He forgives you so you do not have to carry around guilt and shame. He took all of that for you upon Himself when He died on the cross.
The Heart / Mouth Connection
Why do we say the things we say? The Bible talks about how there is a direct connection between the heart and mouth:
“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matthew 12:34b
Whatever is in your heart will come out of your mouth. If you are filled with anger, hostile words will come out. If you are filled with kindness, loving words will come out.
Think of your heart like a fountain and your words are the streams of water flowing out of it. If the fountain is polluted, the water will come out dirty – maybe even quite muddy! But if the fountain is clean and pure, the water will be clear and sparkling.
We all have a need for our heart to be transformed in different ways. No matter how long you have been walking with God, there are always going to be things that need to be changed inside of you. It is an on-going process while you are still here on earth.
As your relationship with God continues to grow by talking to Him in prayer and spending more time with Him in His Word, allow Him to work in you so you can be more like Him. You will slowly begin to see a change in your heart which will transfer to the way you speak. Your words will be full of blessing when your heart is full of blessing.
Bless Others with Your Words
As followers of Christ, we are to be different from the rest of the world so that people will be drawn to us and we can have an opportunity to share God’s love for them.
How are we to use our words so that we can be a blessing to others and a better reflection of Christ? Here are a few good ways…
Bless Others with Kindness
Speak with compassion and gentleness. Have a grace-filled heart.
Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Bless Others with Gratitude
Let them know how much you appreciate them! Have a thankful heart.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:29
Bless Others with Encouragement
Make an effort to give an encouraging word to someone every day. You never know how it might change a person’s life. Have a loving heart.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Bless Others with Purity
Cut out all slander, gossip, criticizing, arguing, complaining, boasting, lying, and filthy language. Have a heart of blessing.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Words have power. Let us use them in a way to build one another up, not tear each other down. As you grow closer to the Lord, may your words reflect a heart that truly sparkles!
Sparkler #1: Prayer
If you struggle with your tongue, ask God to show you where you need change in your heart. Be open to that change and allow Him to transform you from the inside out.
Sparkler #2: Action
Take more time to think before you speak. Make sure the words you say are those that build up rather than tear down so you can be a better reflection of Christ and His love for others.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Ask a trusted friend to help keep you accountable for your words so you can be more aware of what is going on in your heart and coming out of your mouth.
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