Words, Words, Words

I’ve been thinking about the power of words lately.  I was writing a couple of subject-sensitive emails the other day and realized how careful I was being with my words.  I realized whatever I put down on paper would be interpreted by the reader, and they could interpret it correctly or incorrectly.  It’s my responsibility to be as clear and concise as possible in order to be rightly understood.

How many times have we all read something, an unclear line, a quote out of its context, and flown off the handle about it? Or how many times have we heard idle words spoken about another human being and found our very perception of that being shaped by the words we heard about them?

Language is a powerful tool and should not be used lightly. The Bible is full of advice about our use of words.

Matthew 12:36 tells us that we will give an accounting on the jugdment day for every careless and idle word that we speak. Yikes.

Psalm 34:13 says “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”

Proverbs 15:1 encourages us that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And 16:24 states that “pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

James has a lot to say about words.  In 1:19 he says “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  He later gives a whole string of illustrations about the power of the tongue: a bit in a horse’s mouth, the rudder on a ship, a fire in a forest–our words can make or break us, or another person.

But I’ve lately been dwelling on a couple of specific passages in the Proverbs where it simply warns about talking too much. 18:21 says “those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life.”  Wow.  And you gotta love 21:23 “If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble.” How profound!

I remember the old adage of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  While I don’t often actually vocalize mean things, I do talk a lot about nothing and say random things simply to fill in gaps in conversation.  One of my teachers said yesterday that we talk so much, using meaningless phrases such as “like, you know, right” in the middle of sentences because we are afraid of silence. I know that’s why I keep talking sometimes. I talk just to hear myself talk.  And I don’t think that’s edifying anyone, let alone myself!


One response to this post.

  1. Honey,
    If you weren’t a girl I would say you should be a Pastor. You will be an excellent model for (LORD willing) our children. You are a steadfast encouragement to me and a woman of wise counsel. Thank-you! I love you!

    your proud husband,


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