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Food for Thought - Musings

Positive Power of Words

As we continue to reflect on the power of words, seeking to escape the lies perpetrated on us in our youth through the misleading nursery rhyme sticks and stones will break our bones but words will never hurt us, it is helpful to keep in mind the words of Jesus regarding our words found in Matthew12: 36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I am not sure the full implication of these words of Jesus, but at least for me it is a sober reminder to consider my words carefully—something I do not always do that well—and name and remember the words’ power for good and for evil, for healing and for destruction.

Last month we looked at the power of a word/words to either to stir up anger or turn away wrath. This month our focus is on the positive power of words. Our words can truly be a gift to another. They can bring support, comfort, joy, healing, encouragement and strength. Often times when the power of words are written about, the emphasis is on what not to say, and we can forget about the life- giving power of words—a truth that is powerfully portrayed in the opening chapter of Genesis when God speaks creation into being, and in the first chapter of the Gospel of John where Jesus is identified as the Logos— the Word of God, full of grace and truth. Our words are can be life-giving, even life-creating!

Please slowly read the following passages, paying attention to the words/phrases you are drawn to and the overall message these passages are communicating.

Proverbs 12:18 …But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath….

Proverbs 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life….

Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 25:11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

1. What caught your attention as you slowly read through the passages above? What might be the invitation/challenge of those words/phrases you were drawn to in terms of your interaction with others—with *yourself?

*Please do not forget that this is not only concerned with your words to others but also those words of condemnation that you speak to yourself. You need to pay attention to the messages you tell yourself—are they life-giving, life-affirming or are they destructive and death-dealing words?

2. Take some time to reflect on a time in your life that the words of another to you (spoken or written) were experienced in one or more of the ways mentioned in the above passages. Once you recall such an encounter, ask yourself; what was it about their words, what they said, how they spoke it, the timing of those words…that so empowered them to be a source of healing, comfort, edifying, grace giving…?

3. Now take a moment to ask God to bring someone to your heart/mind that might be helped, encouraged by your words—spoken or written. If God brings to heart/mind someone then seek God’s guidance regarding the means and the when. Will it be face to face, a phone call, a text, email or hand written note? I seek to be open to God regarding the sending of notes and texts and it is surprising that whatever means I use it arrives at the right time and the words are words God uses in the person’s life.

Just this morning while I was reading a person came to mind and I immediately stopped reading and texted them sharing what I thought I was to share. They responded immediately, which does not often happen, and shared how hugely encouraging the text was to them and how it also directly addressed something their Church staff had been pondering. This text may very well lead to shaping a series of messages the church will begin after Easter—WOW!

Your words can make a huge difference for good, for life, for healing…. Seek to be slow to speak and quick to listen to God and to others, and when you do speak seek to be a life-giving, life-affirming voice that gives grace to those who hear it.
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