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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

The Power of Words

You don’t have to have a big nose to have heard the childhood mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Just because it’s spouted by first graders doesn’t mean it’s true. Perhaps the adult translation of this age-old adage is more like,

“Sticks and stones can bruise your body for a few days, but words can scar your soul for life.”

Like a neutron bomb which annihilates human life but leaves buildings intact, words can devastate. Your body may remain unharmed, but your heart suffers the deadly shrapnel of painful phrases. David, who knew a thing or two about having enemies in high places, wrote that evildoers “sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows” (Psalm 64:3). Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, you can probably recall the pain of someone’s harsh words scalding your soul.

Maybe you still hear the message from years ago, playing an endless loop in your mind, echoing inside you every day.

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“I wish I never had you.”

“You’re nothing like your brother.”

“I’m sick of you.”

“I never loved you.”

“You’ll never change.”

As devastating as these words can be, they can be offset by words of truth, hope, and love.

The right words at the right time can be helpful, healing, and life-transforming.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” What you say can give life to you and to other people, or it can take life away.

Words are powerful beyond imagination. Think about it. When God created the world, how did he do it? He spoke. God said, “Let there be…” and there was. Words have power. In so many fairy tales, legends, and myths, it’s the power of a spoken spell, incantation, or magic phrase that can either cause destruction or restore harmony.

The potency of godly words can revive, heal, and change our lives. Ungodly words have the power to bind, imprison, and destroy.

On a trip home to India, I took with me a book to read called A Chance to Die, by Elisabeth Elliot about Amy Carmichael. She was a successful missionary in India who saved children out of child prostitution, a shining example of one who had learned to give up her own life and live for God alone. Amy had Christlike character and godly speech. Every time I rode on those bumpy roads or had to go through hardship, I said to myself, "This is a chance to die to myself." I had many opportunities on that trip to remind myself again what God was doing inside me. He was teaching me humility and brokenness and developing my character. I was reminded in those moments to watch my tongue and speak words that would uplift and bless others. And when I did speak positively, God blessed even in the midst of hardship.

When you’re going through adversity, realise the tremendous power of your words and tell yourself, "I will watch the words that come out of my mouth. This is a chance to die to myself and live for Jesus."

Did you know that our friendships, relationships, and our own lives can be changed by the words we speak?

Words can build others up and tear others down.

One little word can ruin your whole life!

Maybe you can remember someone who has said something in the past that has lifted you up or brought you down?

If you can, you'll know there is serious power in our words.

Using our words to bless others

Sometimes we speak our words without thinking about the consequences.

On the other hand, there may be times when we have the power to say something positive and give life, but we stay silent instead.

Part of growing in Christian wisdom as a disciple of Jesus is learning to speak when we’re supposed to speak and not speaking when we are not supposed to speak.

And when we do speak, to make sure we are using our words to build others up, not curse them.

James 3:9-10 states, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

Using our words to direct our lives

James also says, "We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal."

James says that in some ways, our words have control over our actions and direct our lives.

If you put a bit in a wild horse's mouth, it can help you control the horse.

By controlling what you say, you can change your whole life too.

If you control what you say, you can control your entire body.

When I say, “Oh man, I'm so ugly, I'm so poor, my job is terrible,” imagine how that begins to direct my life. But if I say, "I'm made and loved by God, I'm blessed in Christ, and today I will look for ways to bless others", I can expect a very different result.

Using our words to declare who we are in Christ

Even after they are saved, some people can't stop thinking they aren't worthy of God's love, saying to themselves, “I am such a sinner... how could God ever love me?”

But is that really a biblical thing to say? It's like a criminal who has been declared not guilty going around saying, “No! I’m still guilty!”

Yes, we should be humble and confess our sins when we mess up, but always remember that "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

Paul teaches the church to declare, not that you are a sinner, but you are the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul never writes to the “sinners in the church of Corinth” or the “sinners in the church of Ephesus.” He writes to the Saints.

Paul is talking about you being a new creation. Saying out loud (or to yourself) that you’re stupid, or a loser or unloved is not helping you in any way. It won’t make you smarter or more successful, or less sinful. Instead, remember:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

If we want to change on the inside, that change begins with changing how we speak.

Your words can bless others. Your words can control your actions. Your words can remind you of God's amazing love in Jesus.

Words have power and can change your life!


Bobby Schuller and Dakota Shyres –

The Power of Words - Craig Groeschel

A Chance to Die - Elisabeth Elliot

The Power of Your Words - Robert Morris

Power Of Your Words: Walking with God by Agreeing with God - Don Gossett, E.W. Kenyon

The Power of an Encouraging Word - Ken Sutterfield

The Secret Power of Speaking God's Word - Joyce Meyer

The Power to Bless: How to Speak Life and Empower the People You Love - Alan Wright

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