I’m thankful to have Beck Gambill here today sharing about something near and dear to my heart: words.
I was born a communicator. My mother testifies to this, telling that the moment my head emerged into fresh air my mouth was open and I had something to say. Words are in my blood and I hope some day to be a writer by profession, not only by nature and hobby.
My childhood was filled with phrases like, “Do you just like to hear yourself talk.” “Think before you speak.” “You would argue with a brick wall.” “Be quiet!” “You don’t have to fill every moment with noise.” You get the idea. I was a big mouth. My Dad actually called me Mouth of the South (I’m not offended, he was right!) he said I should be a lawyer because I had the gift of the gab. I come by this trait honestly in the illustrious line of Grandma Ria and my father, who knows how many generations back it stretches. To be sure my son has inherited the family genes. Anyhow, as much as my talkativeness sounds like a negative I believe God has been honing me for his purpose, to use my mouth to his advantage.
There’s a particular memory from college that stands out in my mind and drives home the power communicators have. One weekend I was talking with a friend, standing on the far side of a row of washers and dryers, another friend was across the room folding laundry. The noise of the machines made our conversation impossible for her to hear, but apparently it caught her attention. Honestly I have no idea what I was talking about, I imagine I was employing my typical animated gusto. The observing friend approached me after the conversation had ended offering me the most unusual compliment (at least I think she meant it as one). She told me that as she watched our conversation she found herself being caught up emotionally, by the time I was finished talking (even though she couldn’t hear my words) she had become excited, ready to jump on board. Then she said it, “Maybe that’s how Hitler was, people didn’t completely understand what he was saying but he stirred their passion,” she mused, “until today I had never understood that.” I was taken aback, as well as flattered and intrigued. Undeniably Hitler was a powerful communicator, evil, but effective. I felt cautioned by her words, not that I feared turning into a Hitler, but I realized I had underestimated the power of my words for good or ill.
Many of us have influence over people; pastors with congregations, parents with children, bosses with employees, writers with audiences, teachers with pupils. We must remember our words are a sacred trust and should be used with respect to the power they weld over others. The Israelites are told in Deuteronomy that God’s commands “are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” In John 6 Peter declares that Jesus has “the words of eternal life.” Revelation 22 carries the warning that if anyone takes words away from the prophesy, God will “take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City.” Words are powerful in God’s scheme of things, connected to life. Certainly our words aren’t meant to have the same weight as scripture, yet as those identified by Christ’s name we should take our words seriously. Are they meant to encourage or get a laugh at someone’s expense, are they filled with wisdom or do they mock truth; it matters.
Left on my own, my words would doubtless lack grace, those longing for living water would get a mouth full of sand. I am learning to evaluate what I say and write considering the impact words have upon the hearer. Is this an area you struggle in? What are doing to safeguard your words?
Further reading on God’s desire for our words: Psalm 19, Ephesians 5:1-20, James 3.
Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”