Your Words Are Powerful
Your Words Are Powerful
Sir Winston Churchill’s impact on the twentieth century is difficult to overestimate. A master orator and writer, Churchill knew the power of words. Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, wrote a book called Churchill: The Power of Words. Churchill’s words sing in a way that English-language leaders and politicians have tried unsuccessfully to match ever since.
Nevertheless, for all of us, words are powerful. Your words are powerful. With kind and encouraging words, you can change a person’s day – or even their entire life.
Speak words of loveProverbs 10:11-20
Your words have the power to bring great blessing: ‘The mouth of the good person is a deep, life giving well’ (v.11a, MSG). But words can also do a great deal of harm: ‘The mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse’ (v.11b, MSG).
Words have the power to destroy relationships: ‘Hatred starts fights’ (v.12a, MSG). On the other hand, they have the power to heal relationships: ‘But love covers over all wrongs’ (v.12b). ‘Love pulls a quilt over the bickering’ (v.12b, MSG).
Control of the tongue is vital. ‘When words are many, sin is not absent, but the wise hold their tongues’ (v.19). Abraham Lincoln said, ‘It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt!’
Throughout this passage, the writer of Proverbs contrasts ‘the mouth of a fool’ (v.14b) with ‘the mouth of the righteous’ (v.11a). One speaks words of hatred (v.12a). The other speaks words of love (v.12b) and wisdom (v.13).
Words of hatred (v.12a) lead to violence (v.11b), dissension (v.12a), ruin (v.14b) and spreading slander (v.18b).
Words of love (v.12b) are a fountain of life (v.11a); they cover over ‘all wrongs’ (v.12b) and are ‘choice silver’ (v.20a). If someone has offended you, don’t return the offence. It is said that holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your head. Instead, return hatred with love. Speak well of the other person even behind their back and you may find that your love puts an end to the bickering and heals the relationship.
Lord, help me today to control my tongue – to speak only words of love and life. Help me always to respond to any wrong committed against me with words of love.
Speak words given by JesusLuke 21:5-38
Jesus did not have a degree or any formal training. Although he knew the Scriptures back to front, he never went to theological college. Yet his words and language about God were so powerful that, in his early thirties, he was able to teach every day in the temple and draw in the crowds.
The words of Jesus are the most powerful words ever uttered. ‘He spent his days in the Temple teaching... All the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him’ (vv.37–38, MSG).
The words of Jesus are eternal. Jesus contrasted his own words with the temporary things that the disciples could see around them. Jesus prophesied about the coming destruction of the temple (vv.5–6) and of Jerusalem (v.8 onwards), which occurred in AD 70. He said, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (vv.24,33). Two thousand years later more and more people around the world are affected by the words of Jesus.
The teaching of Jesus is widely acknowledged to be the greatest teaching of all time. We have advanced so much in science and technology. Yet in the last two thousand years, no one has ever improved on the moral teaching of Jesus. They are the greatest words ever spoken. They are the kind of words you would expect God to speak.
Jesus warns about deceptive words. He says, ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and “The time is near.” Do not follow them’ (v.8).
Jesus has told us to love everyone – our neighbours and even our enemies. Now he warns us that although we are to love everyone, we will also be hated by all (v.17).
If you are persecuted, you are to see this as an opportunity to be a ‘witness’ (v.13). On these occasions Jesus says, ‘Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’ (vv.14–15). Not only are the words of Jesus powerful, but he also promises to put powerful words in your mouth.
So much of the language Jesus uses is the language of love and relationship. It has to do with your heart and your prayer life. He says, ‘But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping’ (v.34, MSG). Don’t be ‘weighed down with… the anxieties of life’ (v.34). ‘Be always on the watch, and pray…’ (v.36).
Lord, please give me words and wisdom for every occasion. Help me to develop the language of love and prayer and to speak powerful words in your name.
Speak the words of GodJoshua 1:1-2:24
Joshua succeeds Moses. Moses was described as ‘the servant of the Lord’ (1:1), and Joshua takes up the same title from God. It is a title that was also borne by the prophets (Amos 3:7), Paul (Romans 1:1) and Jesus himself (Isaiah 52:13). To be a ‘servant of the Lord’ is now a blessing that all Christians enjoy. But every blessing God gives you comes with a measure of responsibility. Take that responsibility seriously.
Joshua is to pay particular attention to the words God has spoken (Joshua 1:7). He is to obey them (v.7), speak them (v.8a), meditate on them day and night (v.8b) and put them into practice (v.8b). Fill your mind with God’s truth even in those wakeful moments of the night. This will affect your thinking – your thoughts will be thoughts of truth, freedom, love, victory and peace. God also underlines this by speaking to Joshua directly (v.1), encouraging and strengthening him with two key promises.
First, there is the promise of God’s peace: ‘I will give you every place where you set your foot’ (v.3). ‘No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life’ (v.5a). ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest’ (v.13). For us now, that rest comes through Jesus. Rest is not just putting your feet up and relaxing but unburdening your troubles and having a deep sense of peace and security in your identity because of who Jesus is.
The writer of Hebrews states that, ‘If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day’ (Hebrews 4:8) – and that ‘day’ is a day made possible through Jesus. As Jesus himself promised, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
Second, there is the promise of God's personal presence: ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5b). This brings strength and courage: ‘Do not be terrified’ (v.9b). God does not tell us not to feel fear. But he does tell us not to give into it. Do not allow fear to rob you of the blessings God wants to give you. He goes on, ‘Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (v.9b).
Again, you now experience that promise through Jesus, by the work of the Spirit. Jesus’ last words before ascending to heaven were, ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
As Joshua comes under the authority of God’s words, his own words carry power and authority. The people replied, ‘Whatever you have commandedus we will do... Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you’ (Joshua 1:16–17). If you hear and speak God’s words, ‘your words’ (v.18), like those of Joshua, will be powerful words.
In case all this should lead to intensity, super spirituality or self-righteousness, today’s passage ends with the wonderful account of how God uses a prostitute called Rahab. It is so like God to choose a sinner, a prostitute, to be an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5) and a hero of faith (Hebrews 11:31). This is an encouragement to us not to be weighed down by our past. As Joyce Meyer says, ‘We all have a past. No matter how bad your past is, you can get past your past. God can give you a new beginning; he can use you greatly and give you a future.’
Lord, help me each day to meditate on your words, obey them, put them into practice and pass them on to others in the power of the Holy Spirit.
These are verses that mean a lot to me. Being ‘strong and courageous’ doesn’t come that naturally. (I’m not physically very strong – I can’t bench press a thing!) Faced with a difficult situation I might be tempted to duck it or run from it. I find the repeated encouragement to be ‘strong and courageous’ spurs me on.
Verse of the Day
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9).
Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018), p.337.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.