James 1:19-21 reads, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
I sense that these words are becoming more and more important for our society as time goes on. Just because we have the ability to express our thoughts to millions of people in a matter of seconds, does not mean that we should express those thoughts to millions of people. My experience of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc… has become more and more frustrating. People do not give themselves even a second to think about what it is that they are writing. It seems like people have this obsessive desire to be the first to post about a crazy story, be the first to respond to a post , or win the contest of who can make the snarkiest remark.
The same goes for our media outlets online or on television. The number one concern of these outlets seems to be how many hits can we get or how many viewers can we get to tune in. Our story may not be 100% accurate or even all that important but we’re going to go ahead with it anyways. It doesn’t matter that we’ve covered this story for seventy-two straight hours but we now have breaking news that is not anything new at all. I can’t completely blame the media outlets because millions of people respond to the sensational stories that are posted and broadcast on a daily basis. The comments section of most websites are where you are likely to find just how depraved society actually is. With a naive sense of anonymity, people say the most heinous things about others. The media outlets all the while continue to feed the viciousness of the system.
In the words of Jack Black in Nacho Libre, “Take it easy…”
Sit back for a moment and actually process what you’re reading and what you respond with. Stick and stones may break my bones, and words do hurt me.Talk may be cheap but you can certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. Despite our attempts to diminish the affect damaging words can have, the plain truth is that words have power. While words may have standard definitions found in the dictionary, each word has a life of its own in our minds. Words can conjure up many memories, both good and bad, in the vast landscape that is our mind. Sometimes the simplest words can cause the most amount of damage or can create the biggest blessing.
I believe that Jesus recognized the power of his words. People followed Jesus wherever he went and as he spoke people hung on every word of his teaching. With his words Jesus inspired, challenged, convicted, rebuked, healed, and loved people. He used parables as a way to help people understand the kingdom of God. Through his words he changed the life of every person he met. The woman at the well, the Pharisee named Nicodemus, the woman accused of adultery, the disciples, and many others. Jesus’ words continue to change the lives of people all around the world. And while he used his words to give people life, Jesus knew the evil that could come from the mouth for he said “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” What comes out of our mouths is an expression of our heart. We should use our words to show the glory of God to the rest of the world. We are called to spread the good news of God’s love to everyone we meet both in word and in deeds.
As Christians, how do we speak words of grace in relation to everything that goes on around us? Are we willing to give ourselves the space to ponder our words? Will we use our words to continue to spew venom or can our words be used as a healing balm? You never know the effect your words, even a small phrase; can have on somebody’s life. So, will you use your words to save someone or to condemn them? Build them up or tear them down? Encourage or discourage? Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” May all of our words be full of grace.