Have you thought lately about the amazing power of words? The letter of James in the New Testament is about how we live out our faith in concrete ways. James is concerned not just with the content of our faith, but how we act because of that faith. As James writes about his concerns, he makes it clear that faithful activity involves the words that we say. We all learned the little rhyme as children that we all knew was paltry defense against hurtful words: “Sticks and Stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We knew it wasn’t true when we said it and James could not have disagreed more with that little rhyme. He is eloquent in his description of the power of words, emphasizing their power to wound at a distance:
A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell…. People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way! (James 3:2-12)
He knew the power of words and he must have known first hand their ability to hurt. We all know what that is like—gossip passed along, hateful words spoken in anger, discouraging words that crush the spirit. We know how terrible words can be.
But, there is another power in words. It is the amazing power for good. It is a word of encouragement spoken at just the right time. It is a word of hope spoken in a time of despair. It is a word of acceptance and grace spoken to one who feels rejected and judged. It is a word of affirmation spoken to one who feels defeated. It is a word of wisdom spoken to one struggling with a major decision. It is a word of challenge spoken to one who is apathetic. Do you have a story of a word spoken to you that changed the course of your life? Do you have a time when a simple sentence made all the difference”? Words are powerful! Sunday in the sanctuary sermons we’ll be thinking together about the positive power of words. I look forward to being in worship with you then!
Grace and Peace,