Words have rent nations, formed alliances, changed history forever. Two words bind one man and one woman in a covenantal relationship until death. They can build people up and they can tear them down again.
Words have power.
An immense power, even greater than that of an atomic bomb.
James talks about the untamable tongue in the third chapter of his letter. He compares it to a fire. Flames can provide heat to warm us and cook our food. But they can also consume entire cities.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. -James 3:5b-10
People handle fire with reverence and caution. But we throw our words around like grains of sand—unimportant and insignificant.
When we speak or write, we are handling a volatile asset. Every post on social media has the potential to inspire someone. Yet at the same time, if we aren’t careful, it can cause division between friends.
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19
We’ve all be told to think before we speak. But how often do we think before we write?
Whether written or spoken, all words have power. The ancient words of the Bible are just as important as they were when they were first penned.
Next time we are tempted to lash out with our words, we must stop and think.
We have great power at our fingertips.
But we must use it carefully.