In a time when we find people talking less — and texting, tweeting, posting or emailing more — some have asked, “do our words matter?” How important is the spoken language? My answer would be, “of utmost importance,” and the number one reason is that our words are a reflection of our God. God spoke words!!! And His servants wrote them down. Therefore, God speaks to us through His Word. In fact, it’s often been said, “if you want to hear the audible voice of God, then read the Bible aloud.”
Words are necessary for spoken communication, which preceded the written word. If anyone says words don’t matter, ask them to explain their reasoning but to do so by not using words. Spoken communication is important and so also are our choices of words we use.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) wrote, “The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language.” This certainly is a principle found in the Bible, and it is true that the corruption of our spoken language flows from an internal corruption. Jesus said, it is not that which goes into a man’s mouth but that which comes out that defiles [a man]. (Matt 15:11). Jesus also explained that what a man says reveals the condition of his heart. (Matt 15:180) Therefore, Emerson’s words can be understood as “the corruption of the heart leads to the corruption of our words” or “man’s corrupt words reveal a corrupt heart” because words are an outward expression of an inward thought.
Mat 15:19-20 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…
Good and Bad Words
Most words, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. Words are simply a string of letters that make a word that is then defined with a meaning. The value or merit of a word is based upon meaning it conveys or in the context it is spoken. Therefore, there are words that are labeled as good words and there are those that are labeled as bad words.
The apostle Paul wrote a lot about our good works, but he also wrote about our words. Our choice of words is important. Paul says that we are to comfort our hearts and we are to be established in every good word as well as good work (2 Th 2:17). Paul’s writings also exhort us to have speech that is “always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col 4:6).
In the Old Testament, the wisest of kings wrote that a good word makes the heart glad (Prov 12:25). The importance of good words is certainly understandable. But what about bad words?
As stated, all words are simply a string of letters. It is because of their meaning and contextual use that we call some “good” and others “bad.” Bad words are to be avoided. They are words that in some way dishonor or disrespect God or are of no value. They are sometimes labeled as foul, vulgar, crude, filthy, dirty, smutty, and, in the case of dishonoring God, profane. Again, Jesus said that such words defile a man (Matt 15:18), and Paul taught that good words will edify and build up (1 Tim 4:12).
There’s no need to discuss specific bad words or their meanings, but it is important to consider where bad words originate and why they are used. Jesus said that they come from the heart (Matt 15:18) and since Jesus was talking about words that defile a man it’s clearly understood that bad words express ungodly thinking or emotions. Since such words dishonor God, as Christians, we must avoid their use. So how can we do that? By renewing our minds (Rom 12:2) in God’s words and devoting our hearts to Jesus. What we think on, and who and what we love and desire, will direct our thoughts and be expressed in our words.
Let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ. (Phil 1:27)
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Words that Matter Most
In Ephesians 6, Paul spoke about the world in which he was living and likened it to a battle zone. Nothing has changed since his day and we also engage in battle daily. Ephesians 6:14-18 tells of the armor we are to “put on” to protect ourselves, and the weapons we are given to fight the battle.
The whole armor of God is a well-known passage. It lists five defensive items for protection: a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, a shield of faith, and a helmet of salvation. Another item mentioned equips us for offensive fighting. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God.” And finally, most commentators would teach that this passage closes with the means by which we are strengthened to fight: by praying always! And of course, we pray with WORDS! God’s Word (the Bible) and our words (in prayer) are to work together to fight against the wiles of the evil one.
While those seven items are a beautiful and significant teaching from that passage, I would suggest there is more to be grasped. In the next verse, Paul confirms just how much our words matter.
Ephesians 6:19-20 and for me, that utterance [WORDS] may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known [WITH WORDS] the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak [WORDS] boldly, as I ought to speak.
Words that Preach and Teach
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Choose your words carefully. Choose your words purposefully. And choose your words to honor God and share the love of Jesus with all people. Words do matter. Your words just might help in changing someone’s eternal destiny from a world of darkness into the glorious Kingdom of Light.
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