This is something that God laid on my heart awhile ago but something I’ve only just today tried to put into words.
Ironically it’s about words.
Words are powerful. I say this not because I’m a writer, but because I’m a Christian. The Bible tells us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
That means before anything was created there existed the Word of God… a voice, “the” voice. And this voice quite literally spoke everything we see and know into existence.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) God created the world with words.
Then “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus came down from Heaven and in many ways “recreated” the earth - again with words.
Jesus spoke to demons “come out of this man!” and they obeyed. (Mark 5:8) He said “let it be” and people were healed. (Matthew 8:13) He said, “Be still!” and the sea became calm. (Mark 4:39) He said, “Your sins are forgiven,” and a soul was returned to grace. (Luke 7:48)
Then He gave his disciples this same power - also through their words, specifically in His name. He gave them power to baptize, heal, convert, even to speak in other languages.
Our ability to speak, therefore, is a very hallowed and almighty gift from our maker. A privilege and responsibility given to us for a very specific purpose.
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
The purpose of God’s word is to create, to build up, to empower. We, who are made in His image, are given the gift of speech so that we can cooperate with God in this holy work.
But that’s not always how this gift is used. Oftentimes, we use the gift of speech to destroy, tear down, and impair.
The problem is, when something is spoken it is brought to life — whether good or evil. When God said “let there be light” it appeared. In the same way, when we speak kindly, graciously, and truthfully, goodness appears on earth. But when we speak angrily, perversely, or deceitfully, evil appears on earth.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that what comes out of a person’s mouth either liberates him or enslaves him. Our words either announce our allegiance to Christ who sets us free or our allegiance to his enemy who seeks our bondage.
Through our speech, we essentially choose sides. We either become workers for the Lord building up the church, or workers for the devil tearing down the church.
Our words do not come into the world empty-handed, so to speak. They come bearing either a blessing or a curse for the world and those who dwell in it, even ourselves. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)
This is especially true for us parents and all those who were given any type of authority over others. Speaking evil to someone under our authority and in our care (a parent speaking to a child, a husband speaking to a wife) opens up the abyss of hell in their life. Because we have been given authority over them we have the ability to bless and to curse them with our words.
Therefore, it’s a grave deception to think our words are futile and meaningless. Or that vulgarity, gossip, and profanity are harmless.
On the contrary. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
And no, dear Christians, it is not enough to pray with the same lips that speak evil. One does not cancel out the other.
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue… this person's religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Therefore, as St. Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things… slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8 )
My friend, if you’re looking for things to change in your life - if you’re looking for answers and blessings - perhaps it’s time to stop looking and start listening. Listen to what you yourself proclaim throughout the day. Take note of the good and evil you yourself allow into your life through your words.
And, friend, pray. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3)