I have always been fascinated with the power of words. A simple proverb can express a profound truth; a piece of poetry can inspire us or move us to tears; a good book can capture our imagination, making us feel part of another world; a well-chosen word of thanks or appreciation can lift the spirit. However, there is a negative side to all of this. Words can too easily be used to hurt and destroy, cheat and deceive, ridicule and revile. We will all be able to recall times when we have opened our mouths without stopping to think, or when we spoke cruelly, intent on wounding. We will all have encountered those who never stop talking, wearing us out with their incessant empty chatter. The book of Ecclesiastes records, “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Ecclesiastes6:11) We will all equally be aware of the way words have been used to incite
hatred and intolerance, violence and war. I will be writing something more about that in the newsletter for July.
Words are God’s good gift, but they are a gift that needs to be handled with care, for they have a tendency to run away with us, and an astonishing capacity for good and evil. Unless we learn to watch our tongues, we may well find that words become our master instead of us theirs.
When did you last open your mouth and wish you hadn’t? How often do you speak without thinking? When did you last praise someone in an email, text or in-person?
The book of Proverbs reminds us that, ‘Reckless words are like sword thrusts, but a wise tongue brings healing. Those who watch their tongues preserve their lives; those who speak without thinking come to ruin. A gentle answer soothes tempers, but an unkind word arouses anger. The tongue of the wise bestows knowledge, but the mouth of a fool gushes with folly. (Proverbs 12:18; 13:3; 15:1-2.)
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week?
Lord, I have heard it so many times before, but I ask it again for myself: May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Amen.
– Pastor Andrew