Mere Words

There are no mere words. In a world where words are so readily available, in print, online, streaming over a podcast, or blaring out of the TV or radio, there are no mere words.

If you’re like me, you have had more than enough of the words coming from election campaigns, yet they are still spewing forth. The candidates use words to attack and tear each other down. They use words to try to sway people to their side of the issue. Words are a strategy to gain votes. We know, of course, that most of them are lies and used solely to take the focus off of oneself and place it on the opponent.

Those are obviously negative words. But not all words are bad. People use them to communicate love and compassion. Words are used to teach, to advise, and to direct. They are used to praise, encourage, and comfort. They convey appreciation.

Words have meaning. They have a purpose. Good or bad. There are no mere words. They build up or tear down. Encourage or discourage. Comfort or cause distress. Heal or hurt. Bless or curse.

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10)

Words are powerful. By them, God created the whole universe and everything in it. He spoke them into being. Likewise, our words have the power to speak things into being. I see this every day as a preschool teacher. I can say, “Don’t run” to a child and he continues to run. I can say, “You can use your safe feet in the classroom” and the child slows to a walk (usually). I am speaking that into existence. How many times have you heard someone say “ice cream” and not long after that you are craving it? Words have the power of suggestion. You can wake up in the morning and complain about being tired and all of the things that you have to do that day, and chances are, you’ll have a long day full of work. Or you can wake up in the morning and choose to say something positive and your day goes better. It’s the same day, but your attitude is different because you chose to speak the positive instead of the negative.

I lived this while I was going through chemo. There were so many days that I did not even have the strength to get out of bed. There were nights when I felt like I would not make it through. But I refused to complain. Why? Because I had the choice. Every day I had the choice to complain about the situation, and I would have been justified in that, but what good would it have done? It would have made me feel even worse. I chose instead to be positive. Our words follow our thoughts and our actions follow our words.

My challenge to you is, for the next few days, be mindful of the words that are coming out of your mouth. Evaluate them. Are they speaking life or bringing death? Are they building up or tearing down? Are they blessing or cursing? There is no in between. Words are not idle. Once they are released into the atmosphere, they are moving to accomplish their purpose. There are no mere words.