Words are a big deal for many reasons. They are one of our primary means of communicating. Not only that, the ones we choose and how we speak them have major consequences for the hearer. We can use words to build others up or we can use words to tear others down. We can use words to speak truth or we can use words to deceive. Words are indeed powerful agents for influencing others and situations. Scripture warns us about the use of words and testifies to the power they have. Jesus was referred to as “The Word Made Flesh” and also as “The Truth.” I often think of how these two facts relate to all other knowledge we have concerning words.
So many phrases and statements are overused and grossly mishandled. For one, the words, “I love you.” To say these words and not live them out does far more damage than choosing not to offer them in the first place. Another statement that may be overused leading to heartbreak is “I’m sorry.” Genuine regret and repentance bears fruit. If I am truly sorry, I wont’ repeat the behavior. If I’m saying it for my own benefit, to soothe someone’s ruffled feathers in order to get my own way, then the words are destructive and deceitful and the truth will be revealed leaving an open wound in the heart of the one who, in good faith, accepted the apology.
No one is perfect, but honesty and integrity are attainable. We don’t have to speak what we don’t mean. We don’t have to insist on having our own way and leave legions of victims behind. Our manner of speaking and behaving is habitual and habits are hard to break. Intentionality is required and an honest appraisal of our own words, motives and deeds is necessary for a walk of integrity to begin or to continue.
Jesus made clear that what we put in our mouths is not what defiles us but what comes out that does so. How needful it is for us to hold ourselves and others accountable for the handling of words.