The Power of Words

A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…

When someone says something genuinely nice about me—something they really feel—I glow. It can put me in a good mood for days. By the same token, an unkind word can have the opposite effect. Words have a life of their own. 

Lawyers who battle it out in court have one goal—to win. Therefore, they do not always play fair. Many times they will ask an objectionable question knowing the judge will not allow it. The judge will strike it from the record and instruct the jury not to give it any credibility when rendering a decision, but it will be too late. Lawyers know the jury will remember what is said. They are counting on it because what is said lingers in a person’s mind. Words have a life of their own.

This is why we must be cautious in what we say to others. Even if we apologize for making careless statements to or about others, that does not erase what was said. You cannot strike it from the record or take it back, because people will remember it even if you say you didn’t really mean it. Spoken words don’t just dissolve into the air. They live on and damage is done.

No wonder the Bible speaks about taming our tongues (James 3). Both David and James use the metaphor of bridling our tongues (Psalms 39:1; James 1:26). A bridle is a leather harness and bit placed in a horse’s mouth to control it. That might seem a bit drastic to us, but in all honesty some of us could benefit from a built in muzzle that clamps over our mouths when we are about to say something we are going to regret.

As Christians we know the admonitions about not having a flattering tongue (Psalm 5:9), a haughty tongue (Psalm 12:2-4), a lying tongue (Proverbs 25:18), a backbiting tongue (Proverbs 25:23), a talebearer’s tongue (Proverbs 18:8), a cursing tongue (Romans 3:13-14), a sharp tongue (Proverbs 12:18), or to gossip (Romans 1:29). Perhaps the hardest tongue to guard against is one that manifests itself when we least expect it because our tongues speak from the abundance of our hearts (Matthew 12:34).

Unfortunately, this seems to happen with those who are closest to us. We say something stupid or hurtful and we don’t even know why. We might think, “I wonder where that came from?” But the heart knows. Someone or something can trigger unresolved issues within us, and we end up regurgitating them on others.

Solomon said to weigh our words carefully (Ecclesiastes 5:2-3). James said to think before we speak (James 1:19). Jesus said what goes into our mouths is not as important as what we say (Matthew 15:11).

Heartfelt words spoken with kindness, consideration, and love are beautiful (Proverbs 25:11). Careless, thoughtless words can be poisonous (James 3:8). Remember that words have a life of their own. What we say today lives on tomorrow!

That’s why I try to speak pleasant words. I don’t always succeed but that’s my goal. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  If I make my words sweet, they will be much easier to eat if I have to!


O Father, put in my heart to say pleasant words. If I must correct or exhort another such as a child or employee, help it to only be done in love. Let Your words flow from my lips to others. Teach me to hold my tongue when I’m tempted to gossip, spread rumors, give a sharp response, or joke at someone else’s expense. Guide, direct, and motivate my tongue to be used for Your glory.

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