The Power of Words

Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:

A good friend who delights in finding funnies emailed this:

A guy bought a new fridge and to get rid of his old one put it in his front yard with a sign saying: ‘Free to good home. Want it? Take it.’
For three days the fridge sat there without anyone looking twice. He eventually decided that people were too mistrustful of this deal. So he changed the sign to read: ‘Fridge for sale, $50.’ The next day someone stole it!
Words have power
You could say it was all in the way the words were framed. Words do indeed have power.

Language is a great gift – for communicating, expressing, describing, explaining, directing, worshipping, preaching, teaching, admiring, adoring, inspiring and more, not only in speech but also in printed form. But sadly language can be abused and instead of people being built up with encouraging words it can be wrongly used to hurt, discourage and pull down.
There’s an old Bible teaching about words – they have the power of life or death. Sadly some Christians use the power of words to hurt
others or force their viewpoint and will on others.
James obviously came across this and wisely gave Christians some strong warnings in James 3: ‘A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell’ (v5-6 emphasis ours).
He added, ‘The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on’ (v8-10).

Tunnel vision

Sadly we come across people living double standards – they’re supposed to be loving their brethren but their words come across in such a way that they’re putting them down, belittling, condemning and falsely accusing them of not seeing ‘the truth.’
And, repeatedly, ‘the truth’ is but their own version, their way of thinking and with hidden and personal agendas, not biblical or Christ-centred. A twisted mindset at work in people with undealt- with problems. They have a myopic spirit, a tunnel vision on what theybelieve is right, how they perceive things should be. And they wrongly delight to force their views on others. They display and enforce a domineering spirit.
An additional problem is that we live in the day of cyberspace. Not only do these hurtful, demeaning people use God’s gift of language verbally but they type it up! The email age means that beyond speaking face-to-face (or behind backs as the case may be), or
demeaning phoning, hurtful emails hit the airways. With Cc and Bcc copies- who knows the reach of a loose computerised tongue!
Church members get criticised, pastors get verbally slammed, and seeds of doubt regarding leadership and church systems or seeds of doubt regarding leadership and church systems or programs are planted in minds at cyberspace speed!

Church wolves in sheep’s clothing

There are times when such church people seem to have a prophetic edge, they appear to know what they’re saying – especially if they themselves hold a form of leadership. Their words can be very easily taken in by the unwary who then begin to feel demoralised, put down with wrongly accepted feelings of ‘Maybe he (or she) is right. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. After all, they know more of the Bible than I do and they’re leaders.’
Jesus was also into warnings such as Matthew 7:15:’Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.’ He went on to instruct that we should stay away from such people.
We like how the Message Bible puts it: ‘Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practised sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.’

Condemnation – an evil thing

This is something such church wolves lay on the most innocent and precious of people. Condemnation can plough deep into the heart if we allow it to take root. Such people speak or email sneeringly and make us feel that we’re in the wrong, that we’re at fault. It’s a subtle work of the enemy and in truth the wolf in sheep’s clothing often has problems of his or her own and need some straightforward challenging and godly counsel!
‘Condemnation’ – the word means ‘the act of condemning or pronouncing to be wrong; censure; blame; disapprobation.’ Recently we came across a church that had lost a lot of good people because every Sunday the preacher – ‘the wolf’ – had always been condemning ‘the sheep’ in various ways. No wonder people moved on!
We all need exhortation, not condemnation! Satan condemns, people condemn and we can end up condemning ourselves as we start believing that we’re not good enough.
Paul writes in Romans 8:1, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ A Bible college principal once explained “no condemnation” so clearly decades ago – ‘If we were to go straight from the Greek into English, it would sound like bad English –  “No, not, nothing condemnation!”‘
Now we know that this predominantly relates to our being covered by Christ’s blood. But because we also know that we’re totally free in him (John 8:36), we personally take this on board for every area of our Christian walk as we follow Jesus. Therefore we refuse to allow anyone to dominate us, control us and make us feel inferior. If we cannot see the character of Jesus in them or their actions, we refuse to listen to them, never mind even think that they could be right. In other words, we look for the fruit as Jesus suggested.
Our advice for anyone who is feeling condemned because of subtle words? Carefully assess the speaker’s (or emailer’s) character and ask the Holy Spirit what he’s saying. No doubt you’ll see things in a different light. Don’t take rubbish on board.

As for ourselves, let our own words be life-bringing, not destructive. Let’s be good gatekeepers.(c) 2013.09

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