Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord – Deuteronomy 8:3
Words are so important to life. They are full of power, capable of affecting the emotions and lives of people of every background. Have you ever noticed how the word, ‘words’, appears in so many songs? ‘It’s Only Words’ by The Bee Gees and ‘More Than Words’ by Extreme immediately spring to mind. And then there’s the old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. The world would certainly be a different place without inventions such as the printing press and now social media to get the word out about whatever humanity feels the need to communicate.
Apparently ‘the word’ of 2016 in Australia at least, was ‘surreal’. This wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has watched as journalists asked sports stars to reflect on major wins or as less famous individuals describe their 15 minutes of fame after a successful X Factor audition as a surreal experience.
Why are words so powerful and what can we learn about ourselves by asking this question? Why is it that comments that are made to us throughout our school years keep re-emerging in our minds, making their psychologically manipulative attempts to define who we are for the remainder of our years?
The book of James gives its readers some important insight into the way we use words or our tongues to be precise and the powerful effects words can have. James also eludes to the fact that our words expose what lies at the heart of who we are and so we must tame our tongues. He suggests that humanity has been able to tame all kinds of animals but no man or woman has ever been able to tame their tongue. With our tongues we praise God and with it we curse others who have been created in God’s likeness.
If anyone needs convincing of the excessive hurt and damage that can be caused with words by often faceless characters operating through social media, Jon Ronson’s book, ‘So You’ve Been Publically Shamed’, is an eye-opening read. We live in an age where words can strip a person of their reputation and worldly identity in an instant. An interesting quote from Jon’s book reads, ‘I suddenly feel with social media like I’m tiptoeing around an unpredictable, angry, unbalanced parent who might strike out at any moment’.
It’s true then that words can be life-giving but also life-destroying. We can’t escape how others use words and how they choose to expose their inner nature. We can however, think about the words we use and how we can impact others for good. We can also make a conscious effort to feed ourselves with words that serve to build truth in our lives concerning who we are and how we live.
Ravi Zacharias, a well-known Christian apologist, puts it well. He suggests, ‘When you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created. Put your hand into God’s hand, know His absolutes, demonstrate His love, present His truth, and the message of redemption and transformation will take hold’.
When Jesus makes the claim, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me’ (John 14:6), He provides us with words that call us into the truth of Ravi’s statement. This is because Jesus is also known as The Word, not just a word, but The Word. He has always been and always will be, eternally trending you could say when it comes to truth and life.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. (John 1:1-3)
The world is full of words but not all words are good. Let us make a conscious effort to fill our lives with words that come from the Word, the Lord the giver of life. Let us be transformed by His words and may our words reflect the image in which we have been created.