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The Power of Language

January 17th, 2018

Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreements.

 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“the power of language.”

Language is vital for communication and coordination of common efforts. Without communication, many efforts would be futile, achievements minimal, relationships challenging, and misunderstandings numerous. We don’t think much about words, but we certainly use a lot of them. According to Google, a 2013 University of California study concluded that women speak an average of 20,000 words daily, compared to 7,000 words for men. Wisely, I resist endorsing an opinion on that statistic. Imagine what a more current study might include that included texting, Facebook posts, and other social media.

I would note that it matters what you say, and how you say it, more than how much you say. Verbiage and volume are not as important as veracity. Imagine the difficulty of our daily interactions without them, or a conversation when you could not understand another’s words because of language differences. Communication is important. Communication that edifies is essential.

Since you were very small you have been learning and using words while expanding your vocabulary. It is important that you consider the awesome, and sometimes awful, power of the words you speak and the potential effect they have on yourself and others for help or harm. “Words kill; words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Proverbs 18:21 MSG.

With words, you can heal a heart, or wound one. Words mediate differences or exacerbate disagreementsWords speak truth, or spread lies. Words can build friendships, or destroy trust between friends. Words can encourage or dishearten. Words can applaud others or criticize. What you may not realize is that when your words wound someone, your misuse also hurts you in ways you will not at first recognize. Choose them wisely. Speak them kindly.

As a child, I learned a simple rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But that isn’t really true, is it? Many of us bear the lasting imprint of words spoken long ago, whether for good or harm. Some are spoken by us; some were spoken to us. Uncharitable words can leave a hurt far deeper and remaining longer in the heart, but also in the one who speaks them. Careless words cheapen communication and lessen the creative power of your words for good at other times.

God’s feelings about this are clear. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.This should not be!” Read James 3:1-11 NIV. God views your words very seriously because He knows their power and potential for good or evil, for benefit or harm. God warns, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. . . men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Read Matthew 12:33-37 NIV.

Remember that with just a word God created all that we now see and know, and sustains all that He created in the same way. “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 NIV. You and I certainly do not possess God’s creative power, but as you are made in His image, your words are much more than mere sounds spoken and forgotten. Your words hold seeds of life and blessing, carrying a greater, spiritual dynamic well beyond mere language.

Paul warned that God weighs your words. The gravity of that will cause you to pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV. Whatever your heart privately harbors will ultimately be exposed through your words. Here is practical, Godly advice. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to consider the power and potential of your words, for better or worse.

Christian Communications 2018-107
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