Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Power of Words Part 1

This morning I woke up thinking about the power of the tongue and spoken word. I don’t often wake up with Scripture on my mind, but today was different, and I took note of it.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat of its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.

Happy New Year? 

While I’m not entirely convinced that writing about death the first day of 2012 paves the way for a burgeoning blog readership, I am convinced of the weightiness of the spoken word and it’s worth writing about. 

I was a communication major in school and one of my favorite professors quoted Proverbs 18:21 to us at the beginning of every session. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat of its fruit." In that, and his wise instruction, he imparted to me a simple wisdom of using, producing, and sharing words with caution. To use them wisely. He shared with me the weightiness of words-- in all avenues-- and I’m evermore convinced of this truth. Life and death are truly in the power of the tongue and my flesh has the freedom to choose which I impart to others.

Now, before I go on, let me qualify, I fail at this game. Often. I’ve been convicted this morning of the words-- backed by the ill intentions of my heart-- that i have used foolishly and the death caused by them. Call is sarcasm, mask it as "honesty", or justify it as "just a joke", the fruit of using such words is still death whether I intend for them to be or not. 

Death is brought by folly. And on the flip side, the words of a wise man bring life. I’ll talk more about that next time.

The word used for death in this verse is the Hebrew word maveth. It means death. Simple. A physical death. However, if you’re like me, you’ve never actually killed someone with your foolish words. Physically. Which is a good thing for several reasons. But we're not off the hook that easy, my friends. I have, however, killed parts of friends and loved ones that I should have protected.  Be it intentionally or unintentionally, my words have brought hurt.

Earlier in Proverbs 18, Solomon says that a fool, by the fruit of his lips, walk himself into a fight and welcomes the beating that surely follows. (vs. 6) It also says that fool’s mouth is his ruin. His lips are the snare for his soul. (vs. 7). Foolishness equals death and foolish words equal the same. Either you'll  foolishly walk yourself into a gnarly fight and croak, or your more covertly kill parts of  the person your words are directed towards. A deeming comment. A backhanded remark. A sarcastic question. A loose complaint or rebuke. They are hurtful and bring death. In short moments of foolishness, I have called to question my own character, killed and silenced loved ones, and damaged relationships that should have more important than my last word.

The power of death is in my choice to use my words foolishly. It's sin.

So, here is my exhortation. To myself and to all who will read this: repent of the death your words have brought and ask God to fill your mouth with words of wisdom. Words that will bring life. Start 2012 bent to extend life and joy with your words.

We’ll talk about that more next time.