The Power of Words

One of my favorite songs on the radio is “Words”  by Hawk Nelson.(See video below for full song.) The song declares:

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

For me, “Words” is always a reminder of the power speech has over our lives.  Proverbs  15:4, one of the many verses in the Bible that addresses our speech patterns, says, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” (NASB)  How many ever stop and think that what is considered a “joke” or a clever comeback has the potential to crush the spirit of another?   Judging by the dialogue on many sitcoms and comedies, American society doesn’t.  Often, what passes for humor nowadays is little more than witty insults and retorts meant to put another down. 
Every rude word has the potential to wound, no matter how many people laugh or how lightly it appears to be taken.  I believe that many people, including those in the Church, indulge in what could rightly be called “perverted words”.  Whether through gossip, cruel jokes, or put-downs, words have the potential to inflict harm in another’s life, sometimes creating lasting emotional wounds.
This is not what God wants for His people.  For those of us who know that we should not harm with words, it is not enough to simply withhold poison from our tongue.  Instead, we need to replace criticism with encouragement and love.  Tongues are like gardens.  To flourish, weeds and harmful insects must be diligently removed.  However, can it be called a garden if it is carefully weeded and tended, but devoid of any nutritious plant?   If it does not provide food, it is nothing more than a useless plot of dirt. 
We need to “weed” out bitterness, gossip, malice, and any other shameful speech.   But if we do so without being gracious, encouraging others to grow closer to God, and giving comfort, we are simply an empty plot of dirt devoid of everything good.  It is of such vital importance to learn the art of “feeding”  others that Paul writes in Hebrews 3:13 : ‘But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’
God has given Christians a double duty when it comes to words: First, take care that we do not crush others with them. Secondly, do not withhold words that will bring encouragement and renew the faith of those around us.  “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, NASB) 

Tend the garden of your speech; pull the weeds and plant edification. 

by K. Poulos
Guest Blogger

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