In Praise of Words

16212814414_4115f9baa3_zI love words. Loooove them. They’re tiny sparkling gemstones in my mind, waiting to be picked up and used. Finding the right word for what I want to say is like selecting an outfit: it takes time, and discards will be on the floor before it’s over, but when everything comes together, there’s a satisfaction deep in the gut.

My fellow word geeks will get this. For those of you who don’t go around thinking about how much you love words (oh, you lucky normal ones), come wallow in the pool of wordiness with me while we ponder beauty, life and power. It won’t hurt a bit.

Words are beautiful. Words have the potential to unleash beauty. Before time began, there was the Trinity, existing in perfect relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The clearest sign that we are reflectors of the Divine is that we were created with the ability to form relationships. Because relationships rely on communication, we can know that communication exists within the Trinity. And we can know that communication is ordained by God: it is good, very good.

Whether spoken, written or read, words matter. And because they matter, at their essence they are beautiful. What they can accomplish is also beautiful: they have the potential to help us express the truest sense of ourselves to the world. They can also be used as the building blocks of relationship.

The opposite is also true: when words are used to wound or shock, they become very, very ugly. They become tools of something that does not reflect the image of God in us. I believe that’s why Scripture is so insistent that we pay attention to the use of our words: Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. Speak life. Speak the truth in love. The more we can communicate as God does: in clarity, wisdom, encouragement, and love; the more clearly we reflect who we are meant to be.

Words are life. Words have the potential to unleash life. Sometimes the “realest real” is the things we can’t see: words don’t have physical presence, but God has chosen to pour life through them. Scripture – the record of God’s words to us – is God-breathed, says 2 Tim. 3:16. Where there is breath, there is life, so God’s words have life inherent in them. And guess what? As His image-bearers, our words have life too. What we say becomes real in the sense that our words cause things to happen. They affect other people. They affect the spiritual world outside of our physical vision.

In choosing our words, we choose whether we will speak life over a situation or death over it. Jesus reminds us in Matt 4:4 that food isn’t all we need; we also need the word of God in us to keep us alive. I recently heard Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer talk about how the negative words we speak over our circumstances can actually give the devil the tools he needs to form weapons against us. But when we speak hope over the same circumstance, we stir up life over it.

Words have power. Words have the potential to unleash power. Not only can we stir up life with our words, we can stir up power. “They overcame (the Enemy) with the… word of their testimony,” says Rev. 12:11. When God called the prophet Jeremiah, He told Jeremiah that He was putting His own words in Jeremiah’s mouth so that God could perform them (Jer. 1:9, 12). Jeremiah was the vehicle through which God would show His grace and power.

Here’s the thing: we can be like Jeremiah. We can make our words available to God as a vehicle for grace and power. In Christ we’ve been given authority to stir up what God wants to bring forth, and to defeat what God wants defeated. Do I really believe God will do this? Do I get up in the morning and tell God to use my words, to speak through me? Or do I keep my mouth closed and my fingers silent at the keyboard?

But when I think about how powerful and beautiful words can be, I’m so stirred up that I’m inspired to ask God for more: more revelation of His word, more ability to describe what I see in the spiritual world, more motivation to speak blessing over friends and family.

We don’t even realize the potential we have to make things move in this world and in the world we can’t see. Let’s start with our words.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Andrew Gustar</a> via <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-ND</a>


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