“I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36
Think about the last time you smiled. Why the happy expression?
Chances are it was something a person said. Or something you read. The words evoked a positive, joyful response.
Similarly, consider the last time you were sad, or upset. Was it, again, due to something someone said? Except, in this instance, your response was 180 degrees different.
We can’t utter a phrase, or write a single sentence, without using words. Yes, words that, depending on meanings and how they’re used, can affect others in profound ways.
Think about the examples just cited. One, a desirable, welcome emotion. The other, a bitter pill that no one likes to swallow.
See, words have power. Immense, life-altering power. It’s a force that can build others up, or destroy them entirely. Which do you choose?
Many of us have dozens of conversations a day. Do you realize the power your words can wield?
Words can even hold authority over life itself. Consider Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
“Power” cuts many ways. We all want to be empowered to pursue great things, and (hopefully) advance God’s kingdom. Whether we do so, often depends on how we use the power of words.
Paul implores us to choose our words carefully in Ephesians 4:29: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.”
This guidance is needed more than ever in our increasingly broken, divided world. Judgment abounds. Watch the news, and hear our “leaders” describe their political foes in terms bordering on vile. Go on social media, and feel the raw hatred spewing from keyboards into cyberspace.
God is needed more than ever. Yet the mere mention of God has become, in many circles, an incivility, a violation, an unpardonable offense. Proclaim you’re a follower of Jesus, and be prepared to hear words you hopefully would never use yourself.
Others will use words to tear down and ruin. Conversely, we – as Christ’s disciples – will use words to build, create and inspire.
How? By not putting others down, nor criticizing for the sake of criticism. By speaking in ways
(and words) that nurture hope, love and zest for life. By realizing the impact a kind word can have on someone, and seeking opportunities to bestow them.
Similarly, let’s recognize that everyone carries a cross of some sort. A sarcastic remark can send an already-hurting person reeling. A joke, taken the wrong way, can inflict tremendous pain. Sometimes it’s better to not say something. Leave those words in your holster.
The book of Hebrews (the author of which is subject to debate) provides guidance in its 12th chapter: “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled.”
God commands us to lift each other up, and share love in all we do. The words we speak hold tremendous power. Just like the “What would Jesus do?” bracelets you occasionally see on wearers’ wrists, let our voices be guided by a similar query: “What would God have us say?”
(If you’re ready to embrace Christ, He’s ready for you. Visit C Suite for Christ to join in Christ-centered fellowship with other professionals. Submit a prayer request for a pressing need in your life. Participate in a virtual prayer session to ask God to be with those who have submitted requests. Follow C Suite for Christ on LinkedIn and Facebook. Questions? Contact Paul M. Neuberger at (414) 313-8338 or [email protected].)