The Words We Speak

Read: James 3:1-12

The words we speak each day have more power than we realize!  Since we are in an election year in the United States right now we have daily examples of this in the news.  But beyond the political stage the words that we speak to each other on a daily basis have incredible power to bless or curse other people.  They also can be used to bless and curse God as well.

James reminds us of this in the 3rd chapter of his book when he compares the tongue to bits in the mouths of horses, rudder’s on a ship, and forest fires.  He is reminding us that one small word or how we speak our words can drastically affect another person, a situation, or the way someone might feel.  He says that we praise the Lord with the same tongue that we curse human beings.  In verse 10 he says, “THIS SHOULD NOT BE!”

I recently heard a song on the radio by Hawk Nelson that speaks truth to what James is saying.  The lyrics go like this…  “They’ve made me feel like a prisoner, they’ve made me feel set free, they’ve made me feel like a criminal, made me feel like a king.  They’ve lifted my heart to places I’d never been, and they’ve dragged me down back to where I began.  Words can build you up, words can break you down, start a fire in your heart or put it out.”

The chorus to the song then speaks to what our words should be like as Christians…
“Let my words be life, let my words be truth, I don’t wanna say a word, unless it points the world back to You.  Let the words I say be the sound of Your grace, I wanna speak Your love not just another noise, Oh, I wanna be Your light, I wanna be Your voice.”

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of “Words That Hurt, Words That Heal” has lectured throughout this country on the powerful, often negative impact of words. He often asks audiences if they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, another person. Invariably, a small number of listeners raise their hands, signifying “Yes.” Others laugh, and quite a few call out, “No!”

Telushkin responds: “Those who can’t answer ‘yes’ must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you can’t go 24 hours without drinking liquor, you’re addicted to alcohol. If you can’t go 24 hours without smoking, you’re addicted to nicotine. So if you can’t go 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, then you’ve lost control over your tongue.”

Make it personal:  James reminds us of the obvious, “Both fresh water and salt water cannot flow from the same spring.”  Let’s be careful with our words and catch ourselves when we are speaking unkind, untrue, or unneeded words about God or other people.  God’s name is often thrown around as a swear word, this should not be!  Other people are often cursed by unloving and unhelpful words, this should not be!  Let us speak LIFE, TRUTH, GRACE, and LIGHT!

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church