The Power of Words: Check Your Heart
By Dot Bowen
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19 (NIV)
I believe the person who said, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, must have been deaf! For the next few weeks, I’m going to write about the power of words. Trust me when I tell you these truths come from God and from my weakness! God said a lot about the power of words, and unfortunately, I have destroyed a lot with the power of my words. I pray the weeks ahead will be a reminder to us all that there is power in words!
Not too long ago, my husband Howard and I were sitting in the food court at the Atlanta airport when a man at the table next to ours began to shout at his teenage daughter saying: You make me sick! I would leave you here but no one would take you! Why aren’t you like your brother? Just shut-up and give me a break from hearing your sorry voice! You may think I am making this up, but I am not. I looked over with tears running down my face to see a teenage girl crying with her mother sitting next to her looking down at the floor. You can only imagine what I wanted to do to that man. However, what I really did was tell Howard we had to change tables or I was going to use the power of my words and find myself in jail. As we changed tables, I prayed for that young girl with every ounce of passion I had in my body. I still pray for her when I think about that situation even though I do not know her name. Can you imagine the damage her father’s words caused? Only God can bring healing to her damaged heart!
I pray this was an extreme example of how words cause destruction, but I’m afraid someone is destroyed by another’s words everyday. The book of Proverbs recognizes the importance of our words by addressing this subject approximately 150 times in 915 verses—one-sixth of the entire book. I believe one of the reasons hurtful words are so damaging is they cannot be taken back once spoken. You may apologize for what you said—and you should—but you cannot erase spoken words.
As damaging and hurtful words can be, encouraging words can build up others. Proverbs 31:26 tells us that a Godly woman speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her household. We can either tear down our homes or we can build our homes upon wisdom and Godly instruction. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that an anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Never underestimate the power of a kind word. I feel loved when someone encourages me with words. Encouraging words may not speak love to everyone, but I can’t help but believe kind words bring encouragement to everyone.
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” When we speak, we are expressing what is in our heart. Therefore, if we desire to speak encouraging, kind, and loving words, we must deal with our heart; and the only One who can change our heart is God. If we are to control our tongue, we must let Jesus examine our heart. We must pray as David did when he said, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” Ask God to reveal what is in your heart before you open your mouth to speak. God is faithful to answer us when we ask. Pray and speak to God before speaking unkind words to someone else! Words are powerful and can be used either for building up or tearing down. Check your heart before you open your mouth!
Further Reading Psalm 139