Key Verse: "They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows" (Psalm 64:3 NIV)
My daughters behave like typical sisters spaced less than two years apart. One moment they are playing adorably. The next, they are arguing. The scene repeats often throughout the day. Yesterday was no exception. Exhausted from being up late the night before, my little girls were short on patience with one another. Harsh words dominated their conversations as conflict permeated their interactions. Being with them was emotionally exhausting, as I felt like I spent a majority of my day playing referee.
Today, after a good night's sleep, a sense of relative calm has been restored and I am beyond relieved to have the break in their verbal war. And as I sit here and reflect on yesterday, I am reminded how God must feel as He watches our interactions with one another from his throne on high. Now, I am not suggesting that I am without blame. Truth be told, I struggle as much as anyone with holding my tongue. However, I am saying that perhaps we should all consider our words with care. For in a world filled with constant chatter, it seems that many of us have forgotten the power of the spoken word.
The Bible clearly teaches us about words. In fact, God mentions the effects of our word over 400 times in the Bible. Certainly, the old saying about sticks and stones makes God shake his head in astonishing disapproval. For we are told, "reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing". (Proverbs 12:18 NiV)
Think about that for a moment...words are like a sword. They cut. They harm. They hurt. I know of few weapons as destructive as the sword. In order to use a sword most effectively, one must train and practice for years. The same is true for words. We are wise to hold our tongue when destructive emotion grips our heart. Truly, much harm can be done to another with a careless word. Therefore, we are warned, "a man of knowledge uses words with restraint." (Proverbs 17:27 NIV) Just as we would never consider taking a sword against another, nor should our words be used as a weapon.
Personally, I am most tempted to wage verbal warfare when I have been hurt by a personal attack. So what are we to do when our flesh is wounded by a harsh or foolish word? First, we must remember that in our pain, we must take those wounds to God. With wisdom, we must consider that in our arsenal of armor, we are given only one weapon... "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17 NIV) With assurance, God fully equips us with His word. As we take our pain to God and allow Him to speak into our hearts, He promises to "give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict". (Luke 21:15 NIV) Clearly, God knows the power of His spoken word.
Depending on their context, words have the power to hurt or heal. We must never forget that "by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:37 NIV). It should be sobering to learn that we are accountable for every word spoken in this life. Without exception, God desires our words to honor Him with praise, as we use them to bring others into a better understanding of our Heavenly Father. Yet, God reminds us that "blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" (James 3:10 NLT) Too often, our words are filled with our own loathing rather than His great love.
Today, let us be mindful of our words. Better yet, let us embrace God's word with humility and reverence, for it will surely accomplish much as we speak truth with love into our circumstances. After all, sticks and stones will break bones, but words pierce like a sword. Words matter. Consider what God says about the power of words and then proceed with caution.
Words are powerful. Your word speaks life and love into our hearts. We confess that we are many times careless with our spoken words. Let it not be so. Give us awareness of the power of our words. Help us to understand the eternal consequences of careless put downs and angry attacks. Give us words of love and truth that draw others closer to you.
Reflection: Are you respecting the power of words?