Did you hear what happened in New York recently? According to Associated Press, two trucks, loaded with cases of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus, collided as they left the publishing house in Manhattan. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, astonished, astounded, amazed, mesmerized, befuddled …
Think about the power of words. They can heal, affirm, encourage, build up, compliment, assure, and confirm. They can express love, convey grace, bring laughter, console hurt, or brighten a dark day. That’s on the plus side of the ledger. There is another side.
Words can be incredibly hurtful, critical, destructive, demeaning, hateful, condescending, and rude. To paraphrase a saying we learned as children: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can tear my heart out.”
You can accomplish a lot or a little with just a few words:
- “God so loved the world.” (5 words)
- The Pythagorean Theorem (24 words)
- The Lord’s Prayer (66 words)
- Archimedes’ Principle (67 words)
- The Ten Commandments (179 words)
- The Gettysburg Address (286 words)
- The Declaration of Independence (1300 words)
Then there’s this: The US Government regulation on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words
We have to be careful about our words. Calvin Coolidge was quoted as saying: “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.” James, the brother of Jesus, wrote about the power of words (3:1-12) in which he said, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (v. 2).
You and I will make a great deal of choices this week. Many of those choices will involve our words – language, tone, timing. Some of the best choices we will make will probably be those times we choose not to speak. We hold back the words or we take a few moments so that we can make a better choice. Another Bible verse is applicable here: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).