“Sticks and stones my break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Remember the phrase? Our parents taught us this saying to try and help us deal with the harmful taunts of the kids at school. However, I’m sure we also remember the feelings of dread as we realized this phrase failed to provide us the protection we desired. No matter how many times we repeated the phrase, it couldn’t wipe away the memory of hurtful words, it failed to mend the deep wounds words left in our psyche, and it never helped us learn how to deal with the pain. However, through this experience we learned a powerful truth: Words are very important.
Even as children we understood the importance of words because they have power. In the Bible we see just how powerful words can be. God created the world using only words (Genesis 1), Jesus was referred to as the Word (John 1), Jesus used words to calm the sea (Matt 8:23-27), to drive out demons (Matt 8:32), and raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43). In fact, the Bible itself has authority because it is the inspired WORD of God! But how were we able to identify such a powerful truth at a young age? It’s because of where our words originate: our hearts.
Luke 6:45 says, “The intrinsically good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure stored in his heart; and the intrinsically evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil in his heart; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart.”
So, we were able to identify this truth because all words originate and deeply impact our hearts! And that’s kinda scary. Think about it. In Romans 1, Paul talks about how the result of humans choosing other things over God, is that God has allowed us to have them. This can be seen in verses 29 & 30 when Paul says “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents.” Did you catch that?! Paul lists gossip, slander, and boasting alongside MURDER, EVIL, and DEPRAVITY!! Why?! Because sin has fundamentally shifted the focus of our hearts away from God, and it’s manifested in us in many different ways. Yet, God makes no distinction about which sin is worse, because all sin leads to death!
So, If God makes no distinction, then why do we make excuses for the use of our words? When we snap at someone for something they said and just blame it on our “long day”, or when we shout out in anger and then say “sorry, I’m just frustrated”, or when we say something horrible to someone and then say “I didn’t mean it, I just haven’t had my coffee yet.” We make excuses because we don’t want people to see the sinful areas of our hearts that emerge when our guards are down. We make excuses because it’s easier to deflect than to face the brokenness of our own sinful nature. It’s easier to point the blame then to humbly admit our sin.
Words, therefore, have importance because they reveal what our hearts have chosen to worship. No I don’t mean worship in the context of a corporate worship service, but I mean worship in terms of our identity. We were created by God as worshipers. We are worshipers in that we attach our identity, hopes, sense of well-being and purpose to something. And, we were designed originally to give glory to God! To draw us near to Him! However, a result of the fall, we now have a second object of worship, which is parts of creation itself. We put ourselves, other people, or other things in God’s rightful place.
So, today, every word you say, every choice you make, every action you take is shaped by what your heart has chosen to worship. Look soberly at your use of words; the way you talk about those you work and fellowship with, the way you respond to criticism or anger, and even how you imagine how you’d respond to someone if they confronted you. Pray for forgiveness for the waywardness of our idol worshiping hearts, and God, in His grace and mercy, will be faithful to grant it to us! Then, joyously and continuously, thank God for the sovereign grace of His Son Jesus, that intercedes in our hearts daily in the war of our worship!
Words, therefore, have importance because they reveal what our hearts have chosen to worship.