Your Words Have Power…

Monday, January 13, 2020

Church sign calendar: Copyright 2019 Andrews McMeel Publishing
Illustrations by Doug Bowles

If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you be beautiful?

Well, folks… this one jumped off the page at me.  Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve ever heard it, but I do find it a powerful question. I’ve even seen it as an image:

Words Power 2

Friends, we live in a world where people no longer feel the need to filter what they say to others. In our daily lives of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, we are able to hid behind a computer or phone screen and never have to face a person we are unkind or demeaning to. This is not something I have ever taken lightly… and there are people out there that I have hurt – either through my words or with my actions – and I have been trying to find ways to apologize for the wrongs I know about. Even if the wrong occurred 20 or more years ago. Those aren’t easy conversations to have and I wept as I corresponded with someone last week who I deeply hurt 23 years ago. I had been forgiven before, but just needed to say it again recognizing exactly how I had hurt that person.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to use my words – spoken or written – wisely.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

BE KIND!!!  That’s not a new concept. God has been telling us that for 2000+ years.

I’ll go all crazy on you and also post that passage as worded by Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of the Bible, The Message: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”

Each word a gift… Mr. Peterson has such a way with words.

This verse has been a challenge to me through most of my life. Not that I have ever been one to curse someone out (though I’m sure that has happened more than once in my 42 years), but I have said hurtful things or used a hurtful tone. I still struggle with tone – just ask my mama, her best friend, or my husband.

My daddy and I used to send this scripture back and forth to one another pretty regularly. It was an area we both worked on pretty consistently and failed at pretty regularly. But we were determined to keep one another accountable when we could.

I strive hard to speak words that will be helpful and useful. It isn’t that I don’t ever say anything negative ever, but I think it through before saying something that may be seen as unkind.  Just this weekend I called someone who is a stranger “quarrelsome” while quoting 2 Timothy 2:22-26. I thought, and even prayed, over my comment to this person before posting it… but this was someone who had questioned the integrity of a preacher I admire a lot. A preacher who epitomizes “loving the least of these”. The person who questioned my compliment of the preacher is someone who seems to look for ways to attack, hurt, and bash others using the Bible – something I’m not okay with. I’d witnessed this stranger doing this before, many times, and not said anything, but this time he was attacking me and I responded back.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” and in this situation I felt that a rebuke (using scripture) was warranted.

Perhaps I’ve gotten off track… but I don’t think so. Even when we are correcting someone – our child, our spouse, our friend, a fellow Christian, or even a total stranger – our words have power and it is up to us to use that power wisely. Even in my correction, I want my words to bring life and encouragement; not death. I fail the most with my husband and children, but I’m getting better every day.

What about you?

If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you be beautiful?

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