Do you know words have power?
A couple of years ago when I lived in southern Maryland, the church I attended had a mini summer camp for kids of an underserved community. I was one of the volunteers who assisted with the younger children. The main lessons were about having good values. The volunteers who taught the children were teachers and always had the best crafts and game ideas.
One of the lessons was focusing on anger and watching what you say when angry. An activity to teach that concept was having them squeeze out toothpaste from the tube and then trying to put the toothpaste back in. It was funny watching them trying to put globs of sticky green toothpaste back into the tube. You and I know it is impossible, but because of the wonder of children, they tried their hardest. Finally, they realized that it can’t be done.
They learned the lesson that the words we say cannot be put back. When words leave the lips, they can raise one up or put one down. Since this lesson was about anger it focused on hurtful words and its affects on the other person. This lesson hit home for the kids.
Words have power. They can transform a life, they can cause confusion if not in the right order, they can wear a person down to nothing or lift a person up. Words have emotion, are emotions. Word can leave imprints on minds and never be forgotten. Words can be death. Words can be life.
I’m writing about this topic because lately, so many people; celebrities, sports players, presidents and political folks included, have tweeted, posted or said things that they can never take back. These little words have affected careers, marriages, families, communities, countries, churches, ethnicities and themselves to a degree that they never thought of.
As the wise Teacher has said in the book of Ecclesiastes (1:9), nothing is new under the sun. Humans have choked on their words for millenniums!!!
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6 (NIV)
The book of James hit it on the nose. It talks about how humans can tame wild animals but can’t tame our own tongues!!! How can we praise the Lord yet curse God’s creation? But remember James is talking to Christ followers. We are to live by the spirit and have God’s wisdom and really take the time to think before we speak. When we live by the spirit we are patient, kind, loving, peaceful, not slandering anybody, gentle and have self – controlled.
The most powerful words are in the Bible. If we keep God’s words in our heart, live by the spirit and do what God says, the words we speak will be powered by love. They will be encouraging, uplifting, empowering and gently correcting. These words will help others not harm.
Remember everything we do starts with a thought. Before you say or do something take a quick second and think if it is helpful or harmful, especially when in anger. “My dear brothers and sisters take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 (NIV) When angry our brains aren’t using reason well. I talk about anger and its affects in the Lie of Hate post. Check it out.
I repeat words have power. Your words can be life or death. Which do you choose?
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Christina Leeman MPH, writer and health educator, emboldens women to be the She Who Honors God with her all - body, thoughts, words, actions.
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