(image by Toadfoal)
I love words. I get excited about word meanings, name meanings, how words are formed, why they’re used and where they originate from. Geeky, I know. I get even more excited about what words can accomplish. At the most basic level, words create. You can even go as far as to say that words create worlds. Certainly, if you subscribe to the Christian / Judaic narrative of the creation of the universe you believe that “In the beginning God created . .” and He did so with words. He simply spoke and what was is visible came into being.
I suppose the greatest attestation to that awe-inspiring reality is your very existence. You are here and now - at present reading these very words - aware of your being in the universe. At one time, you were not here. There was a time before you existed. Yet somehow, you came to be ex nihilo, or ‘out of nothing’ and here you are! In a very real sense, you existed in the heart of God before you resided in a body. At at just the right moment, He saw it was the right time for you to plant your feet on terra firma and you arrived.
It’s not so hard to believe that creation - birthing something into the real - can begin with a word. We see it all of the time. We so easily take it for granted that all of things we now use and enjoy which fall under human ingenuity at one time only existed in someone’s heart and mind. Then they spoke of it and it began to take shape. What followed was formation of a new creation by the hands of those who knew it before it became present. I once heard that when you have an idea of something you’d like to do or create, you are seven hundred times more likely to achieve it if you write it down or draw it. It’s the first step in creating.
One of the primary evidences that we are, in fact, image-bearers of God is our ability to create or destroy with the words we speak. They can carry the power to give life, or death. It goes without speaking really, ;-) . . we all know the affect words have because we’ve felt them. When someone at school spoke some particularly ugly, hurting words to you, you felt them. No less than you’d feel it when you stub your toe on a table leg. Pain. Lingering pain. I once was told in front of my father, “Today you’ve lost a son.” It was said to deliberately hurt and cut me out of my father's life. I saw him two more times within two years following that day . . and never afterward. It's been twenty-two years since. There’s a pain still attached to those words. Since I’ve been on the receiving end of death-dealing words, I have to choose not to use them on others.
Hopefully you’ve also felt the effect of life-giving words when someone expressed belief in you. They have the ability to lift you above the clouds and give you wings! When I was a young adult at college, one of my youth pastors once shouted in front of others, “ . . He’s going to be one of the best youth pastors in the world.” I was standing right there and he knew it. He believed in me, and as a result his words encouraged me for many years. Since I’ve been the recipient of life-giving words, I must choose to employ them to great effect in the lives of others. Once I do, it’s like watching a seed germinate into a beautiful, vibrant, color-rich flower which refreshes all who see (hear) it.
The Good Book - so called because it’s full of good words - has this to say about words and how we use them, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
(Proverbs 18:21, TM)
The Word Master himself once said, “Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Jesus, Matthew 12:37, TM). The effect of the kind of words we choose to use, comes back on us. The good news is - we choose.
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