In October 1967 after Barry and Robin Gibb had each been arguing with different people they wanted to say something about the power of words. The song that they wrote entitled “Words” captured this thought in the refrain:
“You think that I don’t even mean, a single word I say
It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away”
“Its only words”. Yet preachers, poets and politicians all use them to change minds on their way to changing the world.
Words are powerful.
Those that we speak to ourselves shape our thinking and fashion our worldview. Internal sentences fortify our faith or chip it away. No wonder the scriptures encourage us to fill our minds good things and to meditate on the word of God. (Phil 4:8, Ps. 1:2, 19:14, I Tim 4:15)
No less important are the things that we say to others. These may build up or tear down. Words can strengthen the spirit or crush and maim. Words are portable and surprisingly long lived. I am still listening to voices from my childhood, and perhaps you are too.
The fact that words are powerful ought not surprise us. God spoke our world into being and maintains it in place by that same power. The Bible assures us that he will one day remove it by speaking once more.
Words reveal the our inner being and put it on display whenever we speak.
…For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil”(Luke 6:45)
This is why Jesus warned:
“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt 12:36-37)
In a “say anything world” where ‘talk is cheap’, God calls us higher. To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear”. Ephesians 4:29
Words can set the world on fire (Jas 3:6) and lead the way to eternal fire. But the words that God has sent us share, open the doors to eternal life and keep them that way (Acts 11:14)
They may ‘only be words’ but they are yours, and they are mine. May the words that God has spoken become ours, so that the world to which they lead is blessed by God’s eternal presence.