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FFC2024 - Blog - January 22

The Bible repeatedly says that our words have power. They are rarely neutral. In one way or another, our words are consequential for good or evil. The writer of Proverbs goes as far as saying that the tongue's power is a matter of life and death:

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." - Proverbs 18:21

Another Old Testament proverb, therefore, says our words have the power to harm and heal:

"There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." - Proverbs 12:18

Many mornings, my wife and I will wake up, have coffee, and watch funny videos on YouTube for 10 minutes or so. I remember a video where a guy lit a "Roman candle" in his backyard. No sooner did he ignite the explosive than his dog grabbed it with his mouth and ran excitedly around the family's yard, chasing beloved family members, as fire and light pulsed in every direction! People ran for cover in the ensuing chaos. They all emerged unharmed, but it was a dicey scene for a few seconds.

Of course, the dog had no idea what he was doing. He had no idea the incendiary power and danger of what was shooting out of his mouth. 

Sadly, too many of us are, or at least have been, little better than that dog. We figuratively "shoot our mouths off," endangering the people around us, even those closest to us. But unlike that dog, and to make matters worse, we usually know exactly what we're doing. 

What damage do we do as husbands and wives when we speak harmful words to our partners? What pain and exasperation do we cause our children when we utter needlessly harsh words? What anxiety, sorrow, and grief do we bring to our workplaces, schools, and communities when we don't consider the form and force of our words? And we shouldn't forget that our cold silence and weaponized omissions can be just as harmful. 

Conversely, what healing and hope can we bring when we think about what we say, choosing to speak what is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind? 

This week, let's all take some time to consider the force and form of our words. Let's ask the Holy Spirit in prayer to help us speak hope and healing, not harm, to others. And wherever we know we've spoken poorly to others, let's make a fresh start and set a new direction for our conversations by offering genuine apologies. Who knows what good might flow from our inspiring words?