36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Today I was reading a new book I ordered off amazon. The book is Love Does by Bob Goff, I have been really enjoying his voice. He has a lighthearted sense of humor that has caused me to laugh out loud a few times already. In the twelfth chapter he tells a story about how his little league coach made a huge impression on him because of a simple card that was sent to him in the mail with the words “Wow! What a hit, Bob! You’re a real ball player.Love Coach.” He makes a point to talk about what words of encouragement can mean and how they can leave a lasting impression. This made me think about the power of words. In the bible Jesus mentions the power of words and this passage stands out. Not only because judgment can be placed upon the empty words we speak but by our words we are acquitted. The definition of acquitted simply is to free someone from a criminal act or verdict of guilty. If words can free us or condemn us then they must have more power than we are often acknowledge.
I think back to the saying of “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”….. and how often mothers or teachers would tell you this. Maybe you were getting teased in school, and the adult simply said to you that words do not hurt. Yet, children know better. I never thought this was true, because the words of that girl who teased me for something trivial definitely hurt my feelings and even made me cry. It was an emotional hurt that can sometimes cut much deeper than a stick or stone. Just as much as words can be hurtful they can also be a source of joy and wonder. I know that as I consider the power of words I hope that as I walk each day that the words I speak are used to lift those around me up.
When I walk down the road and see a person who is just walking the same as me, or perhaps in line at the grocery store…..I can often say something nice, maybe “I like that skirt you have on”. It’s a small compliment because it is not really complimenting the person at all but the object they are wearing. Could I not instead say something along the lines of “That is a beautiful skirt, you have really great personal style that I admire.” Seems more engaging than the previous compliment. I only use this as an example because like most I have walked through my day and felt compelled to compliment someone on an item they are wearing. It is an easy way to compliment someone. It is superficial really. But even digging a little deeper to the admiration of personal style I imagine would make a bigger impression. I want to dig deeper into the words that I choose to say to people. Even into the words I choose to write or think. I know that they have more power than I have acknowledged before. And in the end of my life when I am judged by the words , I only pray that they were not empty but rather full of the wonder that the love Jesus has for each of us. The words ” It is finished” as he bowed his head and gave up his spirit on the cross….stand always in my heart as words that have left a lasting impression on my life. Words are powerful, and to ignore this only condemns. So the challenge then is for each of us to dig deeper into the words we use. To remember the words that can encourage and forgo those that don’t.