The Power of Words

      With words and a microphone a comedian can make us laugh. With words a teacher can open and stretch a mind.  With words a parent can give a child a strong belief that they are loved.  And yet:  with words a parent can convince a child that they are worthless.  With words a bully can crush a spirit.  We all have experienced the power of words.  King Solomon acknowledges the impact of words when he states, “The tongue has the power of life and death . . .” (Proverbs 18:21).  Some of the words that shape us the most are what we are told when we are children.  They can become mottos or mantras for our entire lives.   These mottos can be positive but often they are painful.  Singer Rich Mullins was told by his father “Everything you touch gets broken.”  Author Philip Yancey was once told by his mother that she wished she had aborted him.  Words like these leave deep scars and can even imprison us.    
     One of the best ways to deal with these kinds of words is to marinate your mind in the words that God speaks over us.   The Bible teaches us that we are made in his image.  We are so valuable that He sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins.  He loves us passionately. 
     As we manage the impact words have had on us we must stop and think before we speak.  Yes, each of us have been wounded by the words of others but we must admit that we too have wounded people with our words.  How do we speak in a way that honors God?  Here is a three-way test that can be helpful.  Author Emerson Eggerichs suggests we ask ourselves the following questions: Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?   
      First, is it true?  In an era of fake news, slander, political spin and social media smear, truth is precious.  The Lord hates lying lips (Proverbs 12:22).  We must be truth tellers.  We are called to be people of such integrity that giving our word is enough.     
      Second, Is it kind? Not everything that is true is kind.  Respect is a gift that should be given to as many people as possible.  Everyone is made in the image of God, everyone is so valuable that Jesus offered his life for their forgiveness.  Therefore, we should be as kind as possible to everyone we meet.  Let’s be honest, the opposite of kindness is contempt.  If you want to speak to someone, if they sense that you have contempt for them, they will not hear you.  The apostle Paul simply says, “love is kind.”  I rarely apologize for my position on subjects but sometimes I should and do apologize for my disposition.    
     Third, Is it necessary?  We do not need to say everything that pops into our minds.  King Solomon warns us that “many words mark the speech of a fool” (Ecclesiastes 5:3).   Even the police remind people when they arrest them, “you have the right to remain silent.” Say what needs to be said, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. 
      Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary.  This three-way test can help us speak well.  In a world filled with withering, painful words we must SPEAK LIFE.
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church