The Power of Words

My latest submission to my church newsletter. Feel free to skip it if religion isn’t your thing.

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  John 11:38-44 (English Standard Version)

As a writer, I’m aware of the power of words. Words allow me to create worlds and characters, and I constantly agonize over the editing process, making sure I’ve chosen the exact ones that convey my message effectively. Sometimes words elude me, and others, there are so many of them that I can’t write them or type them quickly enough. Recently, I was curious about how often the Bible mentions words and speech; a computer search revealed 100 passages that instruct us on how to communicate with each other as Christians. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed aloud so that Lazarus’ family would see that God heard them in their time of grief. Then, commanding Lazarus to rise, Jesus proved with his words that God would not ignore the cries of his people. Words have the power to heal and bring comfort to those who are in need, but they also have the power to destroy, as they did when the angry crowds shouted “crucify him!” Though the end result of such a violent call to action was humanity’s salvation, the Bible shows us why it is so important to measure our words before we speak them. When I was a child, my mother used to tell me “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” and I felt like she was trying to stifle my thoughts and opinions; as I grew older, though, I realized that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Thinking before we speak doesn’t make us doormats. It helps us follow God’s path by allowing us the time to consider the impact our words will make. Words spoken in spite and anger can’t be unspoken, but their effects can last a lifetime. Allowing our words to heal instead of hurt will (as Ephesians 4:29 reminds us) “give grace to those who hear” in much the same way Jesus did to Lazarus’ family and will help us walk God’s path in glory.

2 thoughts on “The Power of Words

  1. “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,”

    My Dad used to say the same thing, and when i start to think of saying something off key about someone, I hear him say it – in my head.

    Nice reminder


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