What are words? Are they symbols or spoken sounds? They have the power to both communicate and evoke immense emotion. When we are in pain we desire nothing more than words of encouragement. We give our word to others as though it is creditable enough to trust. We can have words with others out of anger. Three little words have enough force to communicate great affection and attachment. Words have the power to build up or rip apart, yet we use them flippantly, frivolously, throwing them around like spare change.
So often words can bombard us, completely changing our disposition. Painful words can impair our view of reality. They give us tunnel vision, only revealing the inadequate and unacceptable parts of who we are. All too often we are unwilling to evaluate if the words that hurt us so deeply have merit, but instead, we accept the pain and strive to please others in order to receive encouraging words that can dull the ache of past scars.
But where do words receive their power from? Do they come from us? Is the power of words found in their assigned meaning, or in what we personally associate with them? All of us have been hurt by words, and many of us choose to believe these things that others tell us about ourselves. Who should we believe? Should we believe our fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, elders,and peers? Sometimes, yes. But I challenge you to think about the most damaging words you have received. I would bet that you were not only quick to believe them, but that they came from someone you trusted.
The problem for many of us is that we have allowed ourselves to believe these words even though they are contrary to the Word of God. Have you been told that you are weak and usless? Well, Christ says that His power rests on you (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Have you been told that you are not worthy of love? Well, Christ tells us that He loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8). Have you been told that you are not beautiful enough? Well, Christ says he knit you together and that everything he has made, including you, is good (Psalm 139:13, Genesis 1:31). Have you been told that all you do is cause others pain? Well, Christ himself, the Creator of the universe delights in YOU(Zephaniah 3:17).
This reflection moves us to two points of application. Firstly, choose to define yourself by God’s Word, not others’ or your own. Secondly, be dedicated to being intentional with your words. Recognize the impact that God has allowed you to have over others. We have been blessed with the ability to directly communicate value and worth into one another’s lives. Pray for discernment with your words, be intentional to uplift, and in the case that you say something hurtful, be quick to apologize and remind them of how Christ sees them: as a child of His who is dearly loved. God’s Word says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
This is something that I challenge myself to work on this semester. May we remember the power of our words. Let us view each individual word as a mighty tool to impact Christ’s kingdom.