In the beginning…
The apostle John informs us that there was a genesis beyond the Genesis when he begins his book with the statement: “In the beginning was the word and the word with God and the word was God”. The Word seems to be the cause substance from which all other substances came to be. This invisible and intangible word is a spiritual substance that can be only be heard provided one has ears. This immediately establishes the fact that God is a communicator. In His wisdom, He has created us with two ears as if to imply that we should be all ears to His word.
According to the writer of the book of Hebrews, the word of God sustains and propels the universe. That sentence is more than enough to describe the power of God’s word. God’s famous first words ‘Let light be’ had the power to revive the earth from its state of emptiness and voidness. His plan to revive man from this state of emptiness and voidness was to repeat those famous words again by sending His Word (Jesus Christ) in human form to become the light of the world. And this son of God always continuously gave light and revived people by healing them, providing for them, and raising them from the dead – all through His word.
Jesus emphasised the life-giving nature of the word, during His time of temptation, that the man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Furthermore, He also said: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life”. The word of God is the source of our very life and sustenance.Understanding this quite clearly, the richest man of the east, Job, confidently declared that he esteemed the word of God more than his daily food to live his life.
The rebirth or being born again is again solely by His word. Apostle Peter says that we have been born again, not by the perishable seed, but through the imperishable, living and abiding word of God. When we, humans, affirm this rebirth, we also do it by the word – our words, in this case: “…if you confess with your word that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. God gives life through His word and we accept it through our words. Such is the importance and power of words, both God’s and ours.
Word seems to be very nature of God and since we, humans, are also created by His image and likeness we also possess this nature. Our words have the power create and revive. Unfortunately, our words also have the power to kill. The ancient proverb warns us that life and death are in the power of the tongue.
With this knowledge that we live in a world which was formed by words and that the word being the cause substance, then it’s imperative that we, who possess the very nature of God, understand how we should live our lives using our words, which has the power of life and death.
Silence is golden
The saying – with great power comes great responsibility – seems appropriate in this context as it’s very clear that we should pay careful attention to our words because of its inherent power. King Solomon says in one of his proverbs about guarding one’s mouth as a prerequisite to preserve one’s life. I think he got this insight from his father, King David, whose prayer was as follows: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips”.
The judicious use of words seems to be the key to live our lives well. Setting up a guard is akin to being conscious of the words we utter which eventually leads to an habit of speaking sparsely. The ability to be intentionally hesitant to voice our opinion in a conversation can be a very wise thing as it’s written that ‘…a man of understanding keeps silent’ and also ‘Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent”.
And when you are tempted to speak or voice your hasty opinion about someone or a situation, it’s best to remember James’ advice to the believers who were scattered because of the persecution (which is kind of the situation when one would like to have their voices heard) that they should be “…quick to listen. slow to speak and slow to become angry”.
Being talkative has its downsides as it provides an opportunity for sin to rear its ugly head. Again the book of wisdom quite simply states that “too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut”. Moreover, it’s a bit scary when we read that we have to give an account for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36). Now, the word ‘account’ reminds me of an expenses tracker or in this case, words tracker. The less and wise expenditure of words should be our focus in our daily conversations.
Speech is silvern
After being silent for a while and when we speak at all, how and what should we speak? Again, the book of wisdom never fails to deliver its gems: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver”. Paul admonishes the Ephesian church saying that “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who ear”. To the Colossian church he says “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”.
It looks like that we should talk only when absolutely needed and when we do so we should give much thought to the words we use, properly assessing the situation and speak words seasoned with salt and grace. The right words at the right time seems to be the key here.
This habit of using our words judiciously, graciously, and wisely also helps us persuade others. We learn from Proverbs 15:1 that a soft answer turns away wrath. Our words and answers can help dissolve tense situations. In circumstances where the expected behaviour is anger, we can make a difference by being unconventional with our soft answers and gracious words which will persuade others to see the bright side of the situation and will help bring about a solution.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
These gracious words not only is pleasant for others to hear, but it benefits the speaker as well. Proverbs 16:24 says that the gracious words are like honeycomb which is sweetness to the soul and the body. Our own words have an impact on our souls and bodies, which gets me thinking about the number of times we keep talking to ourselves everyday. Our thoughts are unvoiced words. Therefore, when we are thinking we are actually talking to ourselves. When we apply the above biblical principles even when we are talking to ourselves we bless ourselves, and bring healing to our soul and body.
Jesus taught that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and it defiles us. He also said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Therefore, the words we speak are a reflection of who we are. Words are fruits and they reveal what we are made up of. The remedy to a changed and pure heart is God’s word. Psalmist says: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11). I think, as we keep hearing and meditating words of God, then our hearts and thereby our lives are changed.
The biblical meditation is often referred to as a form of murmuring, musing or rehearsing within in one’s own mind which, I believe, is self-talk. As we speak the words of God to ourselves we store His words in our hearts, and when open our mouths to speak what comes out are gracious words that blesses us and the hearers.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21)
The choice is with us or rather our tongues to decide how we influence ourselves and others. Let’s choose life and use this powerful divine nature of our words to create and recreate life and bring wholeness in this fallen world.
“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)