The Power of Words
Words are powerful. Words can build up or tear down. There is an expression that goes like this: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That isn’t true. Words can hurt. But words can also heal. The Bible declares that “the tongue has the power of life or death” (Proverbs 18:21). If we want to experience greater joy in our lives and become a source of joy in the lives of others, we should pay close attention to our words. Listen to the March 11 sermon, “What Do You Say?”
Here are two helpful habits to cultivate:
- Replace words of criticism with words of encouragement. Complaining and criticizing are easy to do, and those kinds of words tend to come naturally to us. To experience more joy, we need to become encouragers. Encouraging words are not intended to butter someone up or lie about their deficiencies in order to spare their feelings. Encouraging words are designed to speak truth in love so that a person can recognize his or her potential and be motivated to work towards that potential. Encouraging words see the up-side rather than the down-side of situations and circumstances. Encouragers build up and bless, even when the conversation is difficult.
- Replace words of fear with words of faith. Fear usually manifests itself as worry. Worry is not the same as having a concern. Having a concern is normal and useful because a concern is meant to motivate us toward positive action. If I have a concern about my finances, I am motivated to read a book on money management, create a budget, discipline my spending habits and live within my means. But worry is different. Rather than motivating us toward action, worry paralyzes us with fear and dread. The English word “worry” derives from the Germanic word “Worgen” which literally means “to strangle” or “to choke.” This is what worry does. It chokes the joy out of us. We get so focused on fear that we don’t see God’s possibilities in the midst of difficulties. Replacing fear with faith allows us to speak God’s truth into our challenges and struggles. Sometimes we have to say it before we see it, but choosing to speak words of faith rather than fear, can help us discover God’s grace and strength, and we begin to grow in new and important ways.
This is why the Church is so important. The Church is God’s anointed instrument for helping people speak words of encouragement and faith in the midst of a world that is gripped by criticism and fear. We serve a loving and powerful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death and offers us a new life and a new identity. With that comes a new vocabulary. So let’s use words that cultivate greater joy in our lives, and bring joy into the lives of others.
Pastor Mark Miller