The Bible opens with the image of God speaking a word and the whole creation springs forth. Words are powerful. They can build a person up. A word of encouragement or love can bolster a person’s self worth. Words can also be used to crush and destroy. Harsh and condemning words can stick with a person their whole life, robbing them of any sense of dignity or even purpose.
The problem with words is that they are so easily thrown around. When I was in the play, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” I was tempted to add words to the lines I was given. Yet, the words in the script were carefully chosen to create the mood and were sufficient to move the story along. It was me that wanted to keep spraying words out, hoping to add a little bit more.
The truth is that a lot of us say more than we should in real life. We say thoughtless things. We need to be more careful with the words we use. I’m not talking about political correctness here. I’m suggesting that we need to be more intentional in the things we say to one another and we need to be quick to apologize if our words have caused pain or hurt unintentionally.
Recently I was deeply hurt by words that were thrown at me. They stung because they were untrue. The truth is that we’ve all been on the receiving end of thoughtless comments directed at us. On the other hand, we’ve all said things we wish we could take back. So what do you do with words? How do you fix things when you’ve said too much?
The answer was simple. More words. Words of apology. So often we say things that hurt other people and never mean for them to do so. I think that was the case with what happened to me. I did feel better after an explanation and apology was made. These hurts and misunderstandings happen because we don’t heed that old saying, “Please engage the brain before speaking.”
Today I want to encourage you to choose words that will help build up those around you. Share words of encouragement, appreciation, love and admiration. You want to bless others? Do it by genuinely listening to people. Do it by thanking people for the blessings they share in your life. Do it by reaching out to those you see every day and telling them that you appreciate them.
How much does it cost to tell someone that we love to see their smiling face? How much does it cost to thank someone for thinking of us? How much does it cost us to say “thank you?” The answer is very little and it will only come back to bless us. That is what Jesus did. He was the living Word of God. He came to bring life and offer the hope of salvation. His words resonated with people.
Jesus sought out those who had been marginalized and forgotten. He went after the lost that had given up on God and brought them back into the fold. Our calling is to do the same. We are being sent out with the words of life, words of grace, hope and salvation. So think before you speak. Then share the Good News and watch what God does with it.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.