The trouble with words is that they have meaning and consequence. Joel Osteen, in the ‘Power of I Am’ discusses the power of what we say and the words we choose. He talks about what God brought to fruition by speaking, “Let there be light” -and there it was. Osteen says that we have this same power and I find myself understanding him today.
Words have a ying yang element. We can use our words to speak beauty into existence, or we can use our words to summon pain and evil. Words matter. With this power literally at the tip of our tongues, we make many mistakes.
Have you ever responded to a text message, been reminded of your words at a later time but then you have absolutely no recollection? You scroll back and there it is; your words, your craft. Did I really say that? Yes, you did. Did I really mean that? Maybe. Is that what I wanted to say? I’m not sure now.
True; the demands around us are too great to workshop every sentence. But are the demands so great that we cannot be more conscious and careful?
Ephesians 4:29 : Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your moths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians Chapter 4 is not really about how we speak to each other – not directly anyway. Rather, it’s about unity and maturity. It calls on us to be humble (4:2), make every effort to keep unity (4:3) and promises that by speaking truth in love, we will grow to become in every aspect the mature body of Christ (4:15).
Our words are grammatical structures that build, rebuild, or destroy with each utterance. With our words, we can bring each other up, or we can assure our downfall. I think its important to understand we can’t separate ourselves from our actions. The relationship between who we are and what is we say is direct. Put differently, with my words, I cannot raise you without also elevating myself; I cannot demote you without lowering myself.
If you read, even glance at texts (readings) from centuries past, possibly even earlier, there is a precision to language that I feel is becoming rare. That precision, I am thinking, is a reflection of an acute appreciation for language and it’s power.
I was in a situation early this morning where I wished the person speaking to me could see the damage they were causing. I wished that they could see how their words unraveled me. I also wished that I had not given them the power to do so. I had been courageous enough, at their request, to show vulnerability and so I did. But in doing so, I am empowered them, and because of their words, I am questioning whether I want to share that level of vulnerability with anyone ever again.