The Power of Words
It's the Thought That Counts
For the past month or so, God has been speaking to me about the power of words, both spoken and unspoken, to affect my own life and those I come in contact with.
Actually, God has been specifically dealing with me in the area of my thoughts. The negative thoughts I think about myself, the negative mental records that I play over and over again. Negative thoughts about my looks, my cloths, my cooking, my writing, my conversations, my spiritual life, the way others see me… and on and on.
Can you relate?
It often makes it difficult for me to accept compliments, to accept love, to accept genuine offers of friendship or to think I have something of value to offer to others.
Sometimes those records are negative thoughts about others that I allow to play in my mind and they color all interactions with that person. These records can put a positive or negative spin on every interaction with that person.
God ‘s Word
This morning, God spoke to me again through James 3:2-12. I want to share it in my own words..
It is easy to stumble and fall, to sin with words. A person who does not do damage to anything or anyone with their words is a very mature Christian indeed, able to control not only their tongue but their whole body.
The tongue is a very small organ, but it steers the life. Just as a bridle controls where the entire horse goes and the rudder controls the course of a ship, in the same way, the life of a person is shaped, guided, directed, channeled by the words the tongue speaks.
Just as a tiny fire, a little spark can set a whole forest ablaze and destroy thousands and thousands of acres, just so the tongue can cause a whole world of injustice, misery, and sin.
The tongue bears such influence over the entire person that it is often the reason someone goes to hell. Man has tamed every kind of animal, but no man can tame the tongue. It is unruly and full of deadly poison for the life of the possessor and of those they use it on.
With it, we pray to God and give thanks; then we turn around and gossip about others, put down, belittle ourselves, our spouse and children, men and women, boys and girls who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and curses. This should not be dear friends.
Does a spring of water give both fresh water and salt water at the same time? Of course not. Can a fig tree bear olives? No! Can a grapevine grow figs? Absolutely not.
Then, we should be sure that our mouth is not the spring of both good and evil, blessing and cursing; prayers and thanksgiving to God in church and our devotional time, but grumbling, complaining, fighting, gossiping, belittling ourselves, or our fellowmen and women during the rest of the time.” (JSV=Janet Salazar Version)
Here is the crux of the matter: Our thoughts give rise to the words we speak. Thus, the battle to control our tongue begins with our thoughts.
A personal example.
My husband and I are staying in a resort for meetings he has to attend. In order to achieve our 7,000 steps, we decided to explore the hotel. To our surprise, we discovered they had an arcade game room.
Among the games available was a foosball table. My husband is very good at foosball, having played it from childhood. I am horrible at it. I have only played it about 3 or 4 times in my life. And my eye-hand coordination isn’t good when speed is critical.
Of course, my husband wanted to play and I, without telling him anything about my feelings of inferiority and fear of failure, agree to play.
Let’s just say, it took very little time for Rudy to start racking up points against me.. and enjoy doing so… which hurt my pride. So, I began to indulge some negative thoughts.
“Look at him gloating over winning. That’s the only reason he wants to play this against me is because he knows he can easily win and just wants to gloat. It’s not even Christian of him to celebrate over each point when I am so horrible at this game.”
This thinking quickly went verbal.
“Wow, it’s really something to celebrate winning against your wife when you’ve played this all your life and your wife has played it like twice, isn’t it?” (Can you hear the sarcasm? Oh how quickly those negative thoughts gave birth to cutting, sinful words!)
Simultaneously, my own mental tirade continued against myself as well:
“I AM horrible at this game. I have no coordination. I should just give up. Why try? I don’t have a chance of scoring against him, so what’s the point?”
And here’s where it got really ugly.
“Well, I have to try a little so he can gloat. It makes him feel good when he wins against me, no matter how unfair it is.”
Well, you get the point. My evil thoughts destroyed his joy and my joy, and they were not Christlike by any stretch of the imagination.
The turning point.
Thankfully, God began to work on me and show me that what I was doing was wrong, that I needed to change the way I was thinking about Rudy and about myself.
About 20 minutes later, we discovered a pool table and decided to play a game. All those negative thoughts were still hanging around the fringes and wanted to ruin the joy for both of us in this game as well. But, by God’s grace, I decided that instead I was going to think and say positive things about Rudy.
I decided to compliment him when he made a good play, to celebrate when he got the ball in the pocket, to mourn with him when he scratched or the ball didn’t go in.
That spilled over into thinking more positively about my own plays.
And you know what? We both enjoyed the game. It was fun. We both became less concerned about who beat who and just enjoyed being together.
We even decided to play a second game!
Words are powerful.
Proverbs 18:21 – Life and death are in the power of the tongue. (JSV).
And the genesis of our spoken words is our thoughts. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matt 12:34-35 NKJV
No wonder Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. NIV
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