They move us, excite us, inspire us, and explain us. Lots of times they build us up, growing and nurturing the soul. Plenty of times, though, they are much more sinister. They destroy and tear down and utterly crush us.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately on the power of words, their power to heal and their power to hurt. Being on the receiving end of painful words, words that cut to the quick, that pierce your heart and ache deep, you know that soon it will pass….but right now?
Right now you can’t even breathe for the pain.
“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
It’s been on a 3X5 in my kitchen staring me in the face for about a year now.
Because you see, I myself struggle with words. With using them as weapons to pierce and to hurt. Waging war with another through subtle and not so subtle utterances.
Recently I told my husband that I got a taste of my own medicine being on the receiving end. And do you know what happened? I realized that those of us who use words as weapons have been wounded by them the most deeply. We utilize their destructive power because we have been destroyed by them. And like hurt people we lash out in the way we think will hurt the most.
Experience has shown us that they work, that they wield power and that using them may bring preservation, if only temporarily.
Whoever said that sticks and stones break bones but words really don’t harm us?
Words can bring the most harm and can cut the most deeply and last the longest. Yet oddly, as much as it pains being on the receiving end, I keep the vicious cycle alive by wounding in the same form.
But God had something different in mind didn’t He?
Something like cutting out those hurtful words and stopping the cycle of destruction in its path. Replacing those words with words that do the opposite. Words that bring life, build up, and encourage. Why?
To pour out grace.
To give grace to those who hear. Grace, in the form of words seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).
Doesn’t it always come down to just that?
Giving grace in response to the grace we’ve been given? Grace that was costly to Christ and totally undeserved but free to us beckons us to pour out free grace that will cost us (our pride? the last word?) and probably isn’t deserved either. Extending the grace we’ve been given, not the wrath that we deserve.
Yes, it does come down to grace. Because words can bring harm, but we can choose to pour grace all over instead, speaking words that build up and bring life.
Ceasing the cycle, and receiving anew our own free grace that cannot keep from being given again and again and again.
By Lexie ThomasLeave a Comment
colleen @ thegiftofmondays says
i tell my two boys (15 and 9) all the time that are words will do two things…either build someone up or tear someone down. the scripture is so true that “the power of life and death is in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21) . with one word, one comment, one hasty conversation we can sprinkle death into another person’s life. how is it that the good words are so easily forgotten but the bad words, the harsh words, the criticizing words seems to play on and on in our minds forever? great post and a great reminder that we hold within us the power to influence another life. may we always choose to influence for good.
Colleen—yes, unfortunately the harsh ones seem to stick around much longer don’t they? Thank you for your honesty!
I once read it takes five positive comments to cancel the negative affect of one critical comment.
I have heard the same! A great indication of the weight of our words 🙂
Thank goodness for forgiveness!
Amen and amen!
Beth Williams says
Interesting that you should blog about this today. My Bible Study group is doing a study on “The Power of a Woman’s Words”. It is quite eye-opeining to see how our words can truly hurt someone without even intending to do so. On the other side of that proverbial coin-our words, if used correctly & with grace, can build someone up and encourage others!
Great post 🙂
How gracious He is to weave these lessons together as He teaches us 🙂
Lisa E says
What a great post today,
I was verbally abused as a child by another adult family member, and those words still haunt me to this day. I am 55 years old. Through prayer, I have learned to forgive her, but there are times I still believe the things she told me…(worthless, ugly, filthy,) I know it’s not true, but I’m fighting tears even now as I write this.
Thank you for your honesty Lisa E! The Lord is gracious to bind up our every wound. I am praying for you today dear one!
bobbie edwards says
Thank you for sharing this with others to let them know the importance of words. I lead a writer’s group and we are always reminding each other to take time before speaking or writing – especially what is sent out on the internet. Once out there, they can never be retrieved!
I remember hateful and harmful words spoken to me as a child (I am now 77!) – I think I have forgiven – all my family is gone now. I hope I have, as I want to be forgiven for my thoughtlessness with words.
Thanks again – this is a wonderful site with so many great writers!
Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful heart Bobbie! “Once out there, they can never be retrieved!” Thank you for this reminder today..
Jennifer Odell says
I love this Lexie! God walked me through the power of words a few months back as I was reading through Psalms and this is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing your heart and what God is teaching you. You’ve got such an amazing ear and heart for Him and it blesses me. I’m proud of you!
Love you sweet Jen! So blessed to know your heart 🙂
Dear Lexie, I know the powerful ability that words have to hurt, as I am still struggling to overcome things said to me many years ( and dare I say it , even decades ago). I go the opposite route and do not say anything and it has taken many years of being in a loving safe relationship and having a great, loving Father to help me to talk.thanks for being honest in what you have shared. Isn’t it great that we are all on this journey together and God loves us as we are, in the midst of our brokeness and healing?
Thank you for your honesty today Lauren! The wounds can take on a myriad of faces can’t they? Praise the Lord that we aren’t on this journey alone!
DeAnn Miller says
Thanks so much for this post, I heard a verse quoted on the radio two days ago and didn’t hear what book or chapter and have been thinking I needed to find out what it was. Now as it turns it is the very verse you quoted from Ephesians is the one I heard…just as I was thinking bad thoughts about a person in my life that has caused so much pain and just as I was starting to mutter bad words about him. God was listening and told me to be quiet. Most days this hurt leaves me alone but now when it returns I will remember this verse and say it to myself. The next time I want to hurt with my words I will clamp my mouth shut and let that feeling pass.
DeAnn, isn’t it fun how the Lord orchestrates what He teaches us?! Let’s us both pray today that our words would encourage and build others up 🙂
Love your heart and love you, sweet Lexie. Just had morning devotions with the kids and I bet you’ll never guess what it was about! The power of words ;). I love learning this alongside you!
Jen Travis says
Love your heart and love you, sweet Lexie. Just had morning devotions with the kids and I bet you’ll never guess what it was about! The power of words. I love learning this alongside you!