The Power of Our Words

I love the group Hawk Nelson; one of my favorite songs is words, where the chorus states:

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

When I was a kid I learned the old comeback, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Now maybe this is true for someone, but in my case nothing could have been further from the truth. I was a sensitive soul, and some of the mean, hurtful things said decades ago that still bring tears to my eyes when I stop to think about them. I know at times my words hurt others deeply as well - and I’ve also seen how they can bring life and hope.

Karen Ehrman from Proverbs 31 Ministries writes about this topic in her devotional “The Power of Words.” She shares two stories from her youth - one from the woman who shared the gospel with her, who told her these simple but life-changing words - “I believe in you.” Fast-forward a few years to college, when Karen tried out for the dance team. Her initial response when learning she’d made the team was elation - and then she was told they wanted her to lose 10 pounds first. As her heart sank she heard this - “We would like you … if you would lose a little weight.”

Boy have I been there - maybe you have too? I can see this especially in my kids - my words can make them soar, and when I’m not careful they can literally crush their souls (especially my 7-year-old daughter). Ehrman puts it like this:

This very day, you will have many opportunities to use your words. In our interactions with the people who cross our paths — family, friends, co-workers or complete strangers — we can utter words that instill hope, wholeness and courage to others. Or our statements can kill — dashing dreams, crushing confidence and dragging someone’s spirit down.

Such a little part of our body has such incredible power for life or for death! James, the brother of Jesus, doesn’t mince words in his book of the Bible; James 3:5-10 tell us:

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

We would do well to take Karen’s parting advice at the conclusion of today’s devotional: May we be ever mindful of the way our words might impact those to whom we speak. Let’s aspire to use our speech with godly purpose. To build … not to break. To bless … not to badger. To praise … not to pounce.

God believes in you -and so do I! Go out and use your words to bless someone today!