Words. Very few things we possess are more powerful – and yet, very few things are used more erroneously.
Words are a beautiful gift from God. With them, we can encourage, bless, lift up, exhort, and love others through a multitude of media. More importantly, we can use them to worship, praise, and exalt God – the Giver and Master of words.
All too often, though, we misuse words. Because of sin, we distort our gift and use it in ways that glorify ourselves, put down others, and displease God:
We use words profanely. This is probably the most obvious way that we sin with our words, and it seems pointless to mention – except that we still constantly struggle and fail in this regard. When you’re under stress, irritated by a co-worker, going through a difficult time, or hit the wrong nail with that hammer – what words do you tend to think or speak? Are they words that honour Christ, or words that make light of, dishonour, or disrespect God (Exodus 20:7)? Would you be quick to express those words or thoughts if you could see Christ standing at your side?
We use words maliciously. This often takes form through gossip, slander, deceit, disrespect, bitterness, hatred, or quarreling. In our sin, we are quick to build ourselves up and tear others down. As children of God however, we are called to live holy lives – and one of the ways we do so is by using our words to show love. Consumed in sin, our old nature would not genuinely care about the affects our words have on others, especially if it elevated ourselves. But, as the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and continually sanctifies us as believers, we are called to love others by the use of our words – and in His goodness, God gives us the grace and strength, desire and ability, to honour Him in this way.
We use words carelessly. Though this category may often be overlooked, it is just as critical. Christians are not to use words lightly or flippantly, and yet we do so all the time. We make promises that we put no effort into keeping. We exaggerate the truth to make our experiences more entertaining. We say things about God that are not true because we don’t make the time or effort to know who God truly is. While we tend to think nothing of these actions, we actually dishonour God. We who bear God’s image are to seek to give the world a correct presentation of God – a God who always and only uses words truthfully and meaningfully.
Far too often we neglect to take into consideration the words of Christ himself:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37
These verses have been particularly convicting to me personally over the past few months. While I’ll often attempt to excuse what I’ve said with millions of reasons, no excuse for sin is acceptable before a holy God. God will not hold us blameless for any sin we commit, no matter how big or how small we consider them.
How will you choose – today and every day – to use your words? Will you seek to honour God and surrender the use of your words for His glory?