• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

The power of words

Words have a ‘power’ that we often underestimate.  They can bring joy to a heart (Proverbs 12:25) or distress to one’s soul (Proverbs 15:1).  They are capable of building a person up in the faith (Ephesians 4:29) or ‘devouring’ the good name of another (Galatians 5:15)words bis

Words have a ‘power’ that we often underestimate.

The Bible is replete with verses “about how to speak and listen, how to use words and not abuse people.”  Yet, in my day to day conversations I seemingly overlook and forget these truths.  I can create conflict and mistrust, rather than a safe context for others.  I can stifle, by my words, the growth of others.

Words have a ‘power’ that we often underestimate.

This is why gossip is so insidious. It appears harmless at first view: “Have you heard about what happened to John?  I don’t think he would mind me sharing with you as we should really be praying for him right now.”  Yet, information (sometimes false or distorted information) is shared which diminishes the other; that tears down instead of builds up; and that creates an opening for the evil one to further attack our consciences.

We all know it is wrong and hurtful. Why cannot we not stem its tide?  Why are Christian agencies and churches some of its more fertile soil?

One main reason is because we love ourselves more than Christ.  We love being the one with privileged information.  The act of letting others in on that information, we think, builds us up in their eyes.  It’s warped thinking.

One look back at Jesus would make us feel the pain of those words and would melt our hearts at the forgiveness Jesus extends to us over and over again (1 John 1:9).

One word from another might pull our eyes off of ourselves and put it back on the One who took our wrongs upon Himself.  The simple question of: are you sure that is true? might awaken our hearts to turn towards our Redeemer.

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for this good reminder!
    Carl

  2. It’s the application piece that is always hard. Any suggestions?

  3. Thanks for this observation and needed challenge.

    Any bad behaviour must be intentionally replaced by an alternative good behaviour. We put off the old with sincere repentance acknowledging that it is selfish and willfully evil, causing harm to others and the body of Christ. We put on the new with conviction, faith and confidence in the Holy Spirit.

    We choose to do this again and again at the first sign of gossip. That is, we learn to know the signs, the triggers to our personal participation in evil. Instead of exacerbating the gossip, by contributing to it, we choose to stop it (rebuke others as appropriate) and speak truth and grace into the situation.

    This is something I am still learning to do.

  4. It’s learning to identify those triggers that is a first step many of us need to take. And for which we need other’s help to identify with us those triggers.

  5. How about…

    Trigger: “Did you hear that did/said…”
    Response: “Before you go any further, will this edify us, or will it only titillate us?”

    Trigger: “I heard the other day from X that Y did/said…”
    Response: “I don’t want you to tell me any more, thank you, unless it is true, honest, lovely etc…”

    Of course, if I am the purveyor of gossip, I need to recognize those words as they come to my lips as the trigger, so my response might be, “Forgive me. What I was about to say is inappropriate/ unkind/ unedifying etc…”

    These are just examples. Each of us has to identify our own issue, and learn how to turn it around.

    The bottom line is that “putting off” is a conscious recognition of my old way of thinking and behaving, repenting of it, and closing with the enabling if the Holy Spirit to “put on Christ” as we have learned and come to know Him.

    These ideas mainly come for me from Ephesians 4 and Galatians 5, and my personal experience in seeking to live out the truth in love.

  6. Very helpful. Hopefully this will stimulate reflection and sharing of some other ideas by other readers.

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