April 21, 2020
If there’s one thing that we’ve clearly seen over the last few weeks in quarantine, it is that words are indeed powerful.
In light of recent events, we’ve seen how words greatly affect people’s emotions. Words can make people tremble in fear or lash out in anger. We’ve also seen how words can move people to actually do something. Social media is being filled with different advocacies where people can contribute in the fight against COVID-19.
So yes, words are indeed powerful. But how powerful are our words, really?
Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death. Our words can either speak life or pronounce a death sentence. That’s how powerful they are. Words can be used to spread love or inspire hatred. Our words can be used to share life-giving truths or harmful lies.
While the Bible refers to the tongue as a powerful part of the human body, words are actually not limited by what we speak, especially in our current era where words can reach any part of the world faster than the speed of light. Blogs, vlogs, live videos, or simple social media posts can reach thousands of people all across the world and can be repeatedly shared to different online platforms.
So, ask yourself today, do the posts you share speak life or sentence death?
Is it about shutting off the negative reality and just sharing “happy thoughts”?
No. To speak life is to speak words that bring hope and encouragement in the midst of the bad news around us. It means choosing to help people see the light in spite of all the darkness.
With nonstop news and information we receive every day, we need to constantly remind ourselves to be prudent with our words and to not react out of anger, anxiety, and frustration. Instead, we need to respond in a manner that honors God and does not dishonor anyone.
Here are questions we can ask ourselves before we say or post anything:
Is it true?
. . . let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor . . .
Before we hit the share or retweet button, we must verify facts, being careful not to spread fake news or disinformation. In airing our opinions, we must first check if the news we’re reacting to is true, and if our views are anchored on verified information.
We must remember that freedom of expression comes with responsibilitiesㅡwhat we say will eventually affect other people, in one way or another.
Will it build others up or put them down?
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Words can start wars just as how a tiny spark can set a forest on fire. That is why the Bible encourages us to use words that will build people up, not destroy them.
In the heat of the moment, we can be tempted to say words that we will later regret. When you check your tweets and social media posts, can you honestly say that you’ve used your social media platforms in a way that encourages people?
Will it promote respect and honor?
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Do the memes and videos you share promote respect? Do they ridicule people or put others down for the sake of entertainment? Or do you allow inappropriate, offensive, and obscene content to flourish online by sharing, liking, or posting these kinds of content?
The bottomline is this: The words we speak reveal the condition of our hearts.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
Luke 6:45 (NLT)
No matter how hard we try to control our tongue, speaking life will be difficult if our hearts are filled with discouragement, anger, and fear.
We speak life when we are filled with life. When our hearts are saturated with life that comes from God’s word, we naturally overflow with life-giving words to other people.
May we imitate David when he prayed:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
We speak life when we speak the truth in love. As Paul encouraged the believers in Ephesians 4:15, we ought to do the same: speak the truth in love and grow more and more like Christ. Speaking the truth doesn’t give us the license to be careless with our words. We must follow the example of Jesus who did not just speak the truth, but spoke the truth in love and with grace.
The world has become filled with different negative voices. May we be God’s mouthpiece who will speak life and share His life-giving word to others.