Sometimes we think in terms of ‘words versus actions’. But words are actions: having an impact on others when we speak, write, sing and pray them; impacting us when we read them, listen to them and reflect on them. When we think about ‘Love Does’, in other words love in action, this also has so much to do with our words in action.
Words can seem small, but are potentially very powerful. Like a flame or a ship’s rudder.
Also, like a flame or a rudder, they have enormous potential for good or for harm. A flame of fire can cook our food, provide warmth, light, protection. It can also burn our house down and everyone in it. And a rudder can steer a ship into calm waters or onto the rocks. See James 3:1-12.
The harm doesn’t have to be deliberate: it can happen totally unintentionally; like a spark which sets a whole forest on fire. So too, terrible damage can be done by careless words.
Words can also be used in a powerfully destructive way when we try to control others with words of judgement and condemnation.
Words of gossip and slander (one definition: placing a question mark over someone’s integrity), can be ‘dressed up’ in all kinds of ways within our circle of family and friends, disguising them as innocent. But gossip and slander eventually result in fear, mistrust and disunity. The most outrageous lies are believed and love evaporates!
Gossip is so easy to slip into, and can take a lifetime of learning not to indulge in it.
On the other side, there is the tremendously positive power of words in reading, including the power of fiction to open our hearts and minds to truth which sets us free. Jesus Himself knew the power of a good story, reaching us in-depth with His parables.
Indeed, God’s word in the Bible is an incredible source of truth. See 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
And the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is FULL of quotable quotes on the power of words. For example, 4:23, 13:3, 16:24, 18:6, 18:8, 18:20, 18:21.
In conversation – let’s be people ‘of our word’, not allowing our words to become cheap by, for example, making promises we don’t actually intend to keep. Let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Let’s maintain and cherish integrity, and not slip into manipulation. See Matthew 5:33-37.
Cheap words actually show I don’t care, they expose a lack of love. Love in action also means following through with our words; making our words count. See Matthew 21:28-32.
And don’t forget one of Paul’s conversation tips: The goal is to bring out the best in the one you’re talking to. See Colossians 4:6.
Let’s use words with the respect they deserve, also on social media! Take a moment to think and self-edit before pressing ‘send’!
The most awesome mystery of words is in the power of creation. See John 1:1-3, & 14. God spoke the world into existence; Jesus as the Word incarnate came, expressing Who God is. (What is God like? Look at Jesus!)
Don’t underestimate the divine aspect of the creative power of words.
Words have power, so much power for good. They are a divine gift, a divine tool for blessing. Read them, listen to them, receive them, let them change your life. Use words–speak them, sing them, write them, pray them–let them change the world.
Questions for Reflection:
We are all unique in our characters, perspectives and talents. Some of us are more comfortable and skilled with words than others. But, to one degree or another, we have ALL been given this tool of words – if only in our conversations and silent prayers.
For the writers: Are we truly aware of this powerful gift of words which has been placed in our hands, together with the glorious responsibility, not only to use it, but also to develop, to hone our craft?
For all: Let’s have the courage to take a good honest look at our use of words in conversation. How can we put love into action by the way we talk TO each other and ABOUT each other?
Do we understand the power of words in their potential to impact us in reading? Let’s invest in our souls and minds – let’s invest time in reading!
Has there been some aspect of words, for example–in speaking-that has been an area of failure and humiliation in our lives? If so, let’s ask God for help and healing, so that even these failures can become precisely where God’s deep blessing, grace, freedom and growth arrive on the scene!
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