Words. Words. Words. We are surrounded by words. They come to us from all directions. We hear them coming from our televisions, and radios; we read them in books and newspapers; and we hear people talking to us. We need words. We have been sharing useful information by using words for thousands of years! I can’t begin to imagine what humankind would look like if God had not gifted us with the ability to communicate with words.
Words are powerful. Whether we always realize it or not, the words that we use have the power to heal as well as the power to hurt.
Words can be helpful and encouraging. We can use them to build others up and strengthen relationships. Words of affirmation can help a person gain confidence and help them recognize their own gifts and talents.
In the same vein, words can help build relationships. We can use our words to welcome and comfort another person. We can use words to communicate love and care to another.
However, sometimes we don’t necessarily use our words for good. When angry, bitter or upset, we can discharge words that are sharp, hateful, and mean. We all too quickly lash out at those with whom we are upset, or those closest to us, sometimes calling them inappropriate names, and speaking ill of them to others.
Let’s not forget our tendency to gossip either. Opening phrases like “You won’t believe what I heard…”, “You didn’t hear this from me, but…”, and “Let me just tell you what he did…” often catch our ear and draw us into listening to the other person’s idle chatter. Even though we know that the story we are about to hear is most likely embellished, we listen intently to whatever our informant has to say, sometimes hoping to hear a piece of incriminating information that proves embarrassing or detrimental to the person of whom one is speaking. Very rarely does anything good come from gossip.
Our words are not to be used to hurt and cut others down. They are to be used to heal and build up. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” As Christians, we are called to use our words for good. When we talk, the message that we speak should glorify God and be spoken with love, compassion, and, as the above verse points out, grace. This especially holds true within the church. Therefore, brothers and sisters, I challenge you to put away hateful words and pointless gossip. Instead use the words that you speak to build each other up and encourage each other so others may come to know Christ through you.