“‘In the beginning was the Word (Logos),’ hearkens back to memories of God speaking the universe into being, God calling Abraham to leave his homeland, or Isaac uttering a blessing over Jacob instead of Esau. As these examples indicate, words had great meaning in the Jewish world. Once a word was spoken, the event was happening. Words couldn’t be taken back.”1
Few have this view of words today. There was a time when a man’s word was as good as a signed contract. In those days, the idea of words not able to be taken back was understood. Today, it seems like words have little power—often because there is little meaning behind them. Yet I have no trouble understanding the power of words that affirm or reject—especially when directed at me. Far too easily, they make my day or ruin my week.
What power do my words have? Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea and it would. I can’t imagine my words ever having such power, yet God told Moses to speak to a certain rock and command water to come from it. Moses disobeyed, but God obviously had the expectation that Moses’ words could accomplish this task. Peter’s words had power when he told the lame man at the gate to get up and walk. Paul spoke and Elymas’ eyes became blind.
Jesus told his disciples, "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18 NIV) How was this binding and loosening accomplished if not through words?
So what is the power of words? Can I say anything and expect it to happen? That hasn’t been my experience. Besides, what if the person beside me says the opposite? Whose words have power at that moment?
Jesus is the Word and he has all power and authority,2 which he has chosen to share with his followers,3 so we know we aren’t powerless. At the same time, our words are not magic so whatever we say comes to pass.
Somewhere there is a balance. Where that balance is, I don’t know. I do know I must pay attention to my words—both as a Christian and a writer. There may be more power in what I say than I realize.
Lord, I want all my words to glorify and honour you. Please remove all power from any words I speak or write that might diminish who you are.
In what ways have you seen the power of words—positive or negative, yours or someone else’s?