Words Get In The Way

Words are powerful.

Words have the power to give life or to take it away.  

Words have the power to heal or destroy.  

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue," Proverbs 18:21 states.  In Proverbs 21:23 we read, "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue, keeps himself out of trouble."  

I am ashamed to admit that there have been times in my life when I have used my words to hurt or destroy others.  

Sometimes I've done it unintentionally, but there have been more than a few times when I've used hurtful and killing words out of malice and anger.  And most of the time, the person I've said those words about never heard them.  

We have this mistaken notion that the things we say are somehow harmless if the person we're referring to can't hear us say them.    

What I've learned about the power of words is that even though the person about whom I am speaking my angry, hurtful words isn't within earshot---they are hurt by them all the same.  

You see, we are all connected through the power of the Holy Spirit of God.  When we speak killing words out into the universe, they do more than just grieve the Spirit--they take their toll on the people we're directing them toward.  

Jesus holds his followers to a higher standard.  In Matthew 5:21-22 we hear his teaching on how anger (and our words) can be akin to murder:  

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."

Jesus takes the Seventh Commandment and turns it on it's ear.  It's not just "Thou shalt not kill," it's "Thou shalt not become so angry at another person that you think or say hurtful or killing things about them."

We need to guard our words more carefully, and speak grace and peace out into the world.  Each of us should follow the ancient advice of the great Roman orator Cato who once said, "I begin to speak only when I'm certain what I'll say isn't better left unsaid." 

May you speak life into the world today.  May you find words that are full of beauty and truth, and let words filled with ugliness, hate and anger fall away to be forgotten.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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