Monday, February 6, 2012

The Power of Words

The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. ~ Proverbs 25:11, NCV

Words - where would we be without them?

They are a vital part of our lives. We learn to speak and read, to communicate with each other by hearing and seeing words.

I have a love affair with words. Yup -- I am a “word nerd.” I love to read and, like the true nerd that I am, I’m thrilled when I come across words I’ve never seen or heard before. And of course, I love to write, so give me a dictionary, a thesaurus, some paper and pens or a fresh, blank laptop screen and I’m a happy camper.

No, this is not my home.  But maybe someday, I'll have a cool room with a view like this one.

Words are powerful, too. Whether they are spoken or written, words have the power to comfort, heal, encourage; to bring  joy and truth and to be a soothing balm to the wounded.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones ~Proverbs 16:24, NIV

It’s a beautiful thing to receive a love letter, isn’t it? We treasure it,  keeping it in a special place; or maybe we carry it around with us, taking it out often to read over and over, astounded that someone loves us THAT much and was able to put into words what’s in their heart. Those words can encourage us when we are downcast, calm us when we are anxious, reassure us when we are uncertain or afraid, make us laugh or cry tears of joy and perhaps brighten an otherwise dull day. That person may not be with us at the moment...they may not even live in the same town or state....but just by reading those words, our whole demeanor or outlook on life can change. It’s like a lifeline to the author of those words, making them feel near, even when they are not.

But words also have the power to hurt, deceive, discourage, frustrate, bring sorrow and fuel the raging fires that burn within.

I remember when I was growing up and would say something hurtful to someone else, but I really hadn’t meant to or didn’t realize at the time the effect those words were going to have, I’d say right away, “I take it back!” But once a hurtful word or two or twenty come out of our mouths, we can’t take them back. The same goes for written words. An irate letter or email, a hurtful diary or journal entry, a sniping, sarcastic Facebook post or comment...once written, seen or sent, it’s too late - the damage has already been done.

Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise. ~Proverbs 12:18, The Message

One of my favorite books growing up was called “Harriet The Spy.” 

Copyright 1992 by Lois Anne Moorehead
First published by Harper & Row Publishers Inc. 1964
Harriet M. Welsch is 11 years old and aspires to become both a writer and a spy. She practices for her future careers by observing her family, friends, neighbors, teachers and classmates, and writing down everything she sees and thinks in a notebook, which she takes with her everywhere. One day during a game of tag, Harriet loses her notebook and is mortified when her friends find it and read it. They’re appalled at some of the hurtful things she’s written about them. Harriet’s friends band together to form the Spy Catcher Club. The club meets almost every day to think up ways to make Harriet pay for what she wrote, including stealing her lunch and destroying her art class project. Harriet’s words have caused pain and started a campaign of meanness and revenge. Words can often do that.

We must choose our words carefully, because words have power.  They can give life or they can destroy it. They can lift up a soul or break a heart.

The words of his mouth were smoother than cream or butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. ~ Psalm 55:21, Amplified Bible

I’m simply overwhelmed by how many hurting people there are in the world…and sadly, many within the body of Christ. Over the years, I’ve heard from men and women, from ’tweens to the elderly, almost daily, who are exhausted and in pain, whose tank of hope and faith is just about empty, and who just want to give up. The lies they have received from the enemy of our souls and from negative people in their lives are reflected in the words they speak that pierce my heart when I hear them:

*No one cares
*I’m worthless
*I’m stupid
*I’m such a loser
*I have no purpose
*No one loves me
*I give up

They are desperate to hear a few simple words of affirmation, acceptance, acknowledgment and of agape love in time of need. Simple words from like-minded, compassionate, grace-filled Jesus people who speak as His ambassadors with words like:

*I understand
*I’m here for you
*I’m listening
*I care
*I’m praying for you
*You matter to me
*You are loved
*Don't give up

We need a circle of friends who are ready to come along side of us at any given time; to cry with us; to cheer us on and encourage us; to walk with us through the dark times; to offer their hand to pick us up when we’ve fallen down; to pray for us, to pick us up and carry us to Christ, when we are too weak and exhausted to run to Him ourselves. 

It's a privilege to be able to do all of the above for the precious people, male and female, whom God has placed in my life, and to have them do the same for me. What a joy and a comfort it is, knowing when I’m at the end of my rope, they are out there to offer me theirs!

The power of words from loving, godly people at just the right moment can help to bring healing, hope, comfort, strength and encouragement into our lives and into the lives of others.

There will be times when we have no idea what to say to someone who is in crisis and is hurting or grieving.  And that's when we need to look to our loving Father God and ask Him to speak for us and through us.

God's Word says this in Colossians 3:16, (NIV): "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  And this in Ephesians 5:19 (NIRV): "Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs."

When our mouths are full of the Word of God and our praises of Him, there is no room in them for deadly, discouraging and damaging language.

Are we, as people of God, speaking and singing words of life, love, comfort, hope and encouragement into the lives our family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, church and coworkers? 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." ~ Ephesians 4:29 

What are YOUR words doing today?

Every brief encounter that You send my way 
Is a chance to show the love You gave me. 
I see their troubled faces, a hunger deep inside 
But I depend on You to touch their lives. 
Light what burns within me, let Your truth shine through my life. 

Speak for me; this my plea. 
Say the words I can't express. 
Sing for me a heavenly melody 
That the people will be blessed. 
Speak for me. ~ Speak For Me, by Jaci Velasquez


  1. Pam what a thoughtful and convicting post. Thank you for it. As a reformed 'acid tongue' I know the power of words to hurt and to heal, and I've carried around lots of hurt from words in my life. I strive now to be an encourager and an uplifter. Even when it seems pointless I still try to find the good and the blessing and to pray with a thankful heart. You bless me my friend!

  2. So beautiful are your words to me today. AND I thought that room WAS YOURS! It is so funny that you wrote that in that's not mine! lol.
    I was like oh, I am there with her having coffee...NOPE! Someday! Yes! Thanks for your words, today. Like Golden silver settings. In His Grace, Dawn

  3. Shanyn,

    Thank you so much for YOUR words. Sarcasm is still something I wrestle with. I used to have a sign in my office, which long ago, I was quite proud of: "Sarcasm -- just one more service I offer." It seemed funny then, but no longer, especially after finding out that sarcasm came from the Greek word meaning 'to tear flesh.' Yet, I continue to struggle with it. Sure, sarcastic comments often make people laugh, but at what cost, and to whom? I'm thankful for God's continued grace & patience with me.

    I have to tell you that finding the good and the blessing in a particular situation or a person is not pointless in the eyes of God. I believe He is well pleased with you when you take the time and effort to do so. :)


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