Recent local news events have caused me to reflect upon the power of our words in our lives.
Our words have incredible potential to do good, to encourage, to challenge, to restore, to create and to heal. Reflect for a moment on someone who used words positively towards you – a parent, a friend, a teacher, a colleague even a stranger. How did this impact you?
Furthermore, many of us can recall some of the great speeches of history, such as Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and the impact this had, challenging the authorities and culture by speaking out positively against racism. God himself used words to bring the heavens and the earth into being and all within them. Jesus used words to raise people from the dead.
The flip side, of course, is that words can also be very destructive, divisive and cause untold damage. Whoever came up with the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ clearly lived life in some sort of protective bubble.
Tell that to the kid whose parents constantly tell them they are not good enough, to the teenager facing a barrage of abuse over social media because of their appearance, to the employee being mocked or derided in the office or on factory floor or to the elderly person who feels threatened in their own home by others in their own community.
The writer of Proverbs says that words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose (Pr 18:21 TM). And that’s the thing. You get to choose. You may disagree with others, their principles and their beliefs but remember that behind the principle or belief is a person loved by God. Loved enough for God to send His only Son to die on their behalf and grant eternal life to all who believe in Him (Jn 3:16). And we know that this same love has the power to change everything - and that includes principles, beliefs and actions.
So, this week, think about what you say or write before you speak or type. Ask yourself whether your words will build up or tear down, whether they will be constructive or destructive. By choosing to speak or type life into any given situation, you will discover that in so doing, you will be blessed yourself.