The Power of Words

couple talking

What words have changed your life?

The strongest muscle is neither the biceps nor the glute because the strongest, most powerful muscle in our body is in fact the tongue. A strong bicep gives the ability to hurt physically but the tongue has the capacity to wound emotionally.

Out of the five love languages suggested Dr. Gary Chapman in the well-known book  ‘The 5 Love Languages’ , my primary love language is words of affirmation –because of that, I have the propensity to reflect on statements and/or words whether they are from me or spoken to me by others. I find that words have the capacity to do the following:

Words Create

Words have the capacity to create intimacy or they can ruin a relationship. Proverbs 18:19 tells us that “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.”

Words have equal ability to create life (hope) or death (hopelessness) in a situation such as the vitality in a marriage or friendship because “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose”  (Proverbs 18:21 , The Message Bible) and the responsibility is ours.

Words Empower

Words have the power to give authority.  Think about the oaths read out by a priest in an ordination service, or by a judge as he takes office. The institution gives the individual the authority to perform the duty entrusted to him.  Why would Christian couples conduct their wedding in a Church before an ordained minister? It is because not only the authority is given to the minister to officiate marriages, but also the importance of the pronouncement of blessing (from God through the minister) upon the new season that they are about to embark on.

Words Direct (the course of one’s life)

A judge who is empowered to perform his duty could sentence a person to death or life imprisonment by his words. Words uttered by parents have profound impact over their children. Teachers can change students’ careers, and the words “I love you” have caused men and women to move mountains.

Personally, I have not been hurt physically by anyone (so not the type of girl who would get into physical fights or MMA). But I have been wounded by words – regardless of whether they were intentional or unintentional. They caused me to focus only inward rather than looking out beyond the horizon, blinded to the fact that the world has so much more to offer.

As followers of Jesus, we are accountable for our words, for they are powerful.

Proverbs 26:18-19, The Message Bible – People who shrug off deliberate deceptions, saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,” are worse than careless campers who walk away from smoldering campfires.

 Matthew 15:17-20, English Standard Version – Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

 Colossians 4:6, The Message Bible – Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

Advertisements

The Gift of Encouragement

encourage

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

If you’ve experienced encouragement at the just the right time, you know the truth of the verse from above. A word of encouragement is truly a grace, giving strength to carry on. Sometimes a simple phrase is what will give somebody the courage to keep moving on. This spiritual gift, sometimes also called “exhortation,” is one that we have the opportunity to practice daily, and we may take for granted how powerful it can be.

From the time a child is young, they need encouragement. Words of encouragement are like building blocks for a child’s self-esteem. Even as adults, we still need to hear encouragement. Especially in times of discouragement, it is so important to offer affirmation to those in our lives. Even if someone appears to be doing well on the surface, you never know if they are ready to throw in the towel. A word of encouragement is like a spark that can set a fire blazing again, giving someone the force to carry on. In the book of James, chapter 3, the tongue is said to be a member that can set fires. I venture that, if used as intended, the tongue can set off sparks in a positive way and spread to others as well.

Your words have the power to build up others every day. Affirm your spouse. Talk to your children about the things they are doing well. At work, find ways to compliment your colleagues. It can be easy to take for granted those in our daily lives, but also remember that we are placed in each other’s lives for a reason. Don’t forget to be mindful of the opportunities that arise to encourage others.  I venture that encouragement can take other forms. For example, a friend buying you a cup of coffee when you’re having a tough day can be a source of encouragement. Lending your ear to listen to someone who is undergoing a hardship or simply needs to talk can also encourage them. Offering to pray for someone (and following through) can also be a huge dose of encouragement.

Try to be mindful about the opportunities to encourage others each day. Whether you are married and the parent of many, or a single person enmeshed in your career, opportunities abound. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can encourage others. It is often simple words of encouragement that gives someone else the ability to carry on. Exhorting others can also strengthen their faith.  Take the time to build up others. You never know how it will affect them, now and forever.

____________________________________________________________

lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

August Challenge: Taming the Tongue!

tongue

This isn’t my favorite, I’m not gonna lie.

All my life I have struggled with my tongue.  Saying the right thing.  Not saying the wrong thing.  Slipping up and saying the wrong thing anyway.  Half the time purposefully.

In my younger years, I was known for being sarcastic.  Didn’t really care if it was hurtful if I could get some laughs from others.  (Never mind if it was really because I felt insecure myself, putting others down to draw attention away from my own flaws.)

Then I became a Christian.  It was far from an overnight transition, but slowly my words became sweeter.  I would think about the impact on others before I spoke.  I realized that my sarcastic jokes actually hurt my friends and I stopped making them.

This change made a huge difference in my relationships.  In the past, thinking I was oh-so-hilarious, I would make the same sarcastic jokes with guys, and then wonder why they didn’t reciprocate my affections.  Wasn’t I hysterical?  Didn’t they get the joke?  Probably they did.  But they didn’t want to spend time around someone from whom every other word was harsh.

When I met my husband, I knew I needed a different strategy.  He is a sweet guy who, like anyone, appreciates kind words and encouragement, not jokes at his expense.  I try to be his biggest cheerleader and affirm him at every opportunity that I can (full disclosure: he still thinks I’m sarcastic, so I guess I have some ways to go).

Score one for relationships, but oh boy, work is a whole other matter.  I get angry and frustrated.  It rises up within me like a tidal wave and I find myself going from zero to sarcastic in less than 60 seconds.   I am right.  They are wrong.  How can they not see it?  Are they stupid?  Do they just want to make my life difficult?

See, taming the tongue is really an issue with its root in the sin of pride.  It is putting our feelings – our sense of justice or our desire to be seen as “funny,” our belief in our own rightness or our belief that our right to free speech matters more than someone else’s right to not be hurt – ahead of everything else.  We are so wrapped up in our emotions that we can’t see beyond them to someone else’s point of view.

To draw a contrast, Jesus did not get sarcastic.  He got angry, but in His anger, He did not let the sin of pride overwhelm Him.  He did not let emotions get the best of Him, or let his anger become a personal attack on others.  He was controlled and measured in His response, always remembering empathy and caring, even when He was persecuted.

I confess that I am not there.  But I want to be.