Words Have Power
From the Pulpit – June 13, 2021
Omaha World Herald
Reverend Eric L. Jay
“Words Have Power”
Words have power. The words that we use not only have a very real impact on those around us, but the words we speak also work back upon us.
Words have the power to affect the reality in which we live. Throughout Scripture God cautions us to take careful measure of what we say before we say it.
Jesus says in Matthew 15:11, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” When kept to ourselves, our thoughts remain subjective and still able to be influenced, changed, or corrected. However, when those thoughts are spoken, they become an objective reality and they will have an effect both on the one who hears and the one who speaks. James 3:6 warns us that an unbridled tongue can “set the entire course of our life on fire,” but a thoughtful and prudent tongue can yield a lifetime of blessing.
Much care must be given to how we use our tongue, because what ultimately matters is not what you say or what you intend to say, but what is heard. What I think makes a good sermon counts only in so far as what is heard by my congregation and that proves effective in communicating the truths of Scripture. We can’t prevent people who insist on hearing only what they want to hear, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take great care in thinking about our words before we say them.
From the entertainment industry to politics, saying outlandish things for the sake of being outlandish or for the pure shock value is increasingly popular. Many have confused the meaning and truthfulness of words with the number of words spoken and the volume at which they are spoken. Many have confused an arrogant tongue with confidence, an obnoxious tongue with genuine humor, a mocking tongue with morality, and a disrespectful tongue with true power.
When looking up close at elephants, rhinos, and silver back gorillas at the zoo, it would be a mistake to think that the animals have lost their power because they have been tamed. Any doubts about this would quickly dissipate if the protective barriers enclosing the silverback gorilla suddenly vanished. In the same way, when we choose to bridle our mouths, tame our tongue, and direct the power of our words to be constructive rather than destructive, that does not display weakness but enormous strength.
Ephesians 4:29-32 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”