Words matter. The first recorded words in history held explosive power. Remember what they were? “Let there be light,” God said, and there was light. Those first words brought light, clarity, and focus to the canvas of creation. If we want to be like God, if we want to follow after Jesus, the Word, the Logos, who called Himself and us, the “Light of the World,” we need to be speaking in ways that create light and give clarity to people who see nothing but chaos and darkness. Believers shouldn’t be contributing to the darkness around us but should be using the power of our words to bring light and understanding about who God is in the midst of the darkness in this world.
Our words can be the difference in the direction someone might take. Our words might be the difference in the way someone feels about themselves. Our words might be the difference in the way a situation gets sorted out. Our testimony might be the difference in someone deciding to give up or press on. Our words might be the catalyst for someone to believe in the power and plan of God for their life. Words matter.
The fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden didn’t begin with an action. It began with words. It began with a conversation with Satan whose agenda was to twist God’s Words. He used deception, manipulation and lies to lead Eve to consider something different from what God had outlined for her life. With words he lured her beyond the boundaries God had set. Yes, words matter. Yes, words have persuasive power.
There is no shortage of people expressing themselves these days. Even introverts have become extroverted and free with words on social media. Everywhere I look, I see conversational chaos. Christians should be speaking with intention to honor God with their words and speaking in such a way that those around them can hear Him speaking through their words. We have to be careful to not cloud situations, to not add to the confusion or to create chaos through the things we say.
The Bible says in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account for every empty or idle word spoken. It sounds to me as if God takes our words very seriously. Let me encourage you to make your words count and to make sure you speak with a Kingdom Purpose in mind.
- May your words be trustworthy. Your word should be your bond. As a Christ follower, people should have confidence that when you promise something, when you commit to something, that to the best of your ability, you are going to follow through. There should be integrity between what you say and what you do. When we make a promise, it should be our intention to carry it out. While we know that isn’t always possible because circumstances can change or life can get in the way of our plans, we shouldn’t say something just because we think that is what someone wants to hear from us or because we are trying to impress someone or get someone to like us, and all the while have no plan to make good on what we say. We shouldn’t make commitments lightly. Some commitments require careful consideration and prayer. People need to be able to count on a disciple of Jesus to do what he or she says.
We live in a culture where people will literally say whatever, without thought for how their words impact anyone else. You might be totally counting on someone to do what they say they will do because if they don’t, you can’t complete your assigned task or carry out your responsibility. Their lack of follow through might cause you great consequences. You might be rearranging your schedule and be running like a crazy person to get to an agreed meeting only to have the other person no show. That can be so frustrating. I have had more people on Facebook Yard Sale say they want something, and they promise to come and get it, but say they need a day or two or three or five and then never show. They stop returning any messages and cut off communication. For all those over 40, that’s called “ghosting” someone. You’re welcome. Now you know. When you agree to meet someone somewhere and they no show and won’t communicate, you have been ghosted. Just keepin’ y’all relevant and in the know.
What would be wrong with texting someone to say, “I’ve changed my mind, and I have decided I am not going to buy the item?” or “I’m sorry, but I’ve found something else that suits my need better, please move on to the next person in line?” My husband had someone message him more than once to set up a time to see a house in Charleston last week. When he got there, guess what? He was ghosted. All communication was cut off. Wouldn’t that make you hesitate to think about doing business with someone like that in the future? Your word being kept, or your word being broken creates a track record and reputation with people.
For the believer, your word is an obligation to act. Words without actions to back them up are empty and powerless. I have really enjoyed getting to walk with several couples to the altar this year and witness their words of commitment to one another at their weddings, but I tell every couple I marry that the day of their wedding isn’t their marriage. It is their wedding. Their marriage starts the day after that and the day after that and the month and years after that as they then put actions behind their words. Vows are made on the wedding day, but those vows must be proven through action in the days that follow.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Every word Christians speak are spoken in Jesus’ name. That means we are representing Christ with every commitment we make.
In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, one of the groups leading the religion of the day, would add something to their vow or to their testimony by saying they swore by Jerusalem or they swore by heaven or they swore on their own head as a way to add weight or legitimacy to their promise. Have you ever heard someone make a pinky promise or swear on their mother’s grave or even say, “I swear to God”? The Bible says that our “yes” should simply be enough. Our word should be enough. It should simply be the proof up front that our actions will follow. We don’t have to add anything extra to our word. And as we consistently do what we say we will, we will develop and perpetuate a reputation that we are faithful and trustworthy.
How are you making good on the words you said to God when you gave your life to Him or when you were baptized? Does your life reflect that your word is your bond? How is the integrity in your marriage at the moment? When you say to your spouse, “I love you,” do your actions back that up? How is the integrity in your parenting? When you promise your kids that you will do something special with or for them, are they consistently seeing you follow through or is there constant disappointment? What about those threatening words, “I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t stop, there will be a consequence…” Do you follow through with the consequence or have your kids learned you don’t really mean what you say? How are you doing with the promises you made before the congregation, when you dedicated your kids to the Lord? Have you actively been praying for them, getting them to church, and teaching them in the ways of the Lord? When you tell someone, “I will pray for you,” do you actually do it, or has it just become a phrase you say?
People should be able to trust what we say because of our understanding that we are actually accountable to God for the promises we make. May your words be trustworthy, and may they be trustworthy because you are committed to speaking only the truth. Lying, the mis-telling of the truth, the manipulating and twisting of the truth knowingly, on purpose, is evil. It puts us in step with the devil who the Bible calls the “Father of Lies.” (John 8:44) The verse actually says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language.” If his lips are moving, he is lying. He is fluent in the language of lies. Satan is a liar and a murderer. Those are his two, character qualities. The devil wants to deceive and destroy you. He does that through lies and manipulation, through words. I want no part in any of his agenda. Listen, through the power of our words, we can be like him or we can choose to be like God and create light and life. I want to serve the Father of Life, not the Father of Lies. May your words be trustworthy. May you mean what you say and may what you say be the truth!
- May your words be helpful and healing. The truth, by nature, is divisive. God
doesn’t ever want believers to minimize the truth or refrain from speaking the truth just because some people won’t like it, will disagree or will even target you because of it. Even if it creates division at times, the truth must be shared. There is no real help for people when the truth is withheld. But y’all know the drill when it comes to sharing the truth. It has to be done in love (Ephesians 4:15). It shouldn’t be done with anger. I don’t know how a person could share lovingly if they are also sharing angrily. I don’t know how you can share lovingly and be condescending and sarcastic at the same time.
My prayer is that I will be helpful with my words. There are times I stand here and declare things that are counterculture. I know toes get stepped on. I know some people disagree with what I say as I lift up the standard that is outlined in the Word of God. But it wouldn’t be helpful for me to only preach about Heaven and how much God loves everyone if I withheld that Hell is real and that judgment comes to those who reject God’s love.
Instruction is part of our responsibility as Christ-followers. Jesus was always teaching. If He wasn’t teaching a crowd, He was teaching His disciples. What if those who follow Jesus were fully committed to instruction? What if we were tenaciously investing in the upcoming generation? What if we were providing mentoring and teaching about how to live well, how to make wise choices, how to plan for a future, how to maximize opportunities around us, and how to live with integrity? Perhaps if Christians were more devoted to instruction there would be less need for correction. I don’t know. I do know that every adult in this room can think of someone whose words made the difference for you. Someone taught you to see something in yourself you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Someone spoke words of blessing over you at a time when you needed someone to see and believe in you. Someone instructed you in the way you should go in order to please God and you are better off because of it.
The Bible says that we have power through our words to bless or to curse, to build up or to tear down. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death in it. That is pretty sobering, isn’t it? We can assassinate someone with words, or we can give life to someone with our words. Are we using that power correctly? Are we using that power to its fullest potential?
Proverbs 16:24 says that pleasant words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. I don’t just believe that the Psalmist is speaking in metaphorical language. I believe you and I have the power to speak in ways that help people feel satisfied, fulfilled, purposeful, successful, confident and courageous. The right words can calm an angry person, Proverbs 15:1. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Reconciliation happens when people are used of God to speak in ways that bring healing.
Words like, “I am here for you.” “What can I do to help you?” can be like a healing for a person who is going through a tough time. One of our church members, Debbie Casto, is going through difficult breast cancer treatment and she told me how receiving messages from two church members in the same day, just ten minutes apart, really ministered to her. Those messages became part of Debbie’s healing journey. They were gifts from God to her that day. If you have the power to bless someone with your words, why hold back? Why not try to offer as much encouragement, as much prayer, as much appreciation, as much honor and respect that you can? I want my words to be helpful and healing.
Luke 6:45 says that our words reveal what’s in our hearts.
If I am gossiping about someone, making fun of what they are wearing or am trying to tear them down, what does that say about what is in my heart? Does it say I devalue people? Does it say I don’t have love in my heart? That I don’t care about others? That I think I am superior to them in some way? That’s some food for thought, right? That’s next level evaluation. Not only are we accountable to God with our words, but our own words expose who we really are. If I say one thing to your face and another thing behind your back, my words expose the hypocrisy of my heart. I’m just the messenger, .
James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James pulls no punches with this one here, friends. Our words could actually reveal that we don’t truly know Jesus like we may profess to know Him. Maybe today we can consecrate the words we say to the Holy Spirit’s use so that they are helpful and healing.
- May your words be a kingdom weapon.
Do you realize that any time you share your personal testimony about how God saved you or what He has done for you through Christ, or any time you lift up the truth of the Gospel, you are actually doing spiritual warfare? That is one way you can live a victorious life. (Rev. 12:11) Every time you declare the praises of God or exalt Him in some way, it is like you are taking a big sword and you are cutting the tall grass out of your way. You are slashing the enemy that would oppose you as you advance.
I remember, when our kids were little, like 2 and 3, and they would be tired or cranky or frustrated and they would give into their feelings and start throwing a fit and we would say to them, “Use your words.” “Use your words, and tell us how you are feeling,” or “Use your words to tell us what you want.” Perhaps God would say the same to us this morning. Understand first that He has given us His Word to use when we are in trouble or afraid. Every time you declare the promises of God you are releasing the power of God in your life to make good on those promises. Every time you declare the promises of God you are agreeing with God about your life and situation. Every time you declare the promises of God Satan will have to retreat because God’s Word refutes every lie he tells. Open your mouth and declare the promises of God!
In addition to that, use your words to declare victory over your circumstances in faith! If you confess that you are doomed, that life stinks, that everyone is out to get you, that things will never change, that you will always be broke, that you are destined to suffer, or whatever stinkin’ thinkin’ you are giving voice to, you are going to stay stuck and sad. You can absolutely defeat yourself with your own mouth. If you discourage yourself with discouraging words, you will miss what God wants to do and you won’t do your part to walk to the miracle He has waiting.
When you are negative and defeatist in the way you speak you open the door for Satan to come in and keep you company. He loves a good pity party. He will even invite friends. He will be happy to escort depression through your door. He will be happy to roll out the welcome mat for doubt to come in and sit a spell. Listen, when your mind and mouth are focused on your problems and everything that seems to be going wrong, your attention is diverted away from the Word that says, “With God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26. When you speak the worst you are discounting the word that says, “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. Negative talk is the opposite of faith.
But if you will start to use your words in faith and declare that God will take care of you, declare that God is for you and is working all things for your good, declare that God’s favor is on your life, declare that God has good plans for you and that He never drops the ball, declare that God is with you and declare His presence changes everything, well, you are going to see some things happen that will leave you saying, “Why didn’t I start this declaring business earlier?”
I’m not talking about a name it/claim it prosperity Gospel or the New Age Law of Attraction; I am talking about walking and talking by faith. We talked recently about how our faith makes the difference. It takes no faith to say, “I guess the doctors say I’m sick, so I’ll just be sick and let this play out however it’s going to play out.” That takes no faith, does it? God moves in response to our faith. If you have received salvation by faith and know that God will take care if you in death, start to believe in faith that He will also take care of you in life. Quit giving your circumstances more power and authority in your life than you are giving to God. Our faith informs us that God is ultimate and supremely powerful. Let people see that truth when they hear you declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness over your life.
Let your words be different so that they make the difference. Let your words be different so that others see the difference Christ makes in your life. May they be trustworthy. May they be healing and helpful. May they be a Kingdom weapon that enables you to live in victory!