The Power of Words | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2015

The Power of Words

By Sara Palm

Words are powerful. I know you are reading this thinking, “Sure, like I’ve never heard that before,” and you may be ready to dismiss this right away, but travel back in time with me for a moment. What were “those” words in your life? The words spoken out of anger, malice, or jealously?

“I hate you”

“You are worthless”

“I don’t love you anymore”

“You can’t”

“You aren’t good enough”

When were those words spoken for you? Was it years ago, by a careless friend? Or maybe yesterday by someone you thought would love you forever? Our words truly are the most powerful tool given to us by our Creator and so often we use that tool to bolster our own pride, rather than to restore relationships. We brag, lie, gossip, demean, humiliate, and shame others, all while wanting to believe we are really the “good” Christians. After all we don’t commit those big sins right? As if sins can be ranked in order to size.

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

So much in scripture is directed at what we say. James 3:5-6 has a specific warning about the words we us.

Our words are so powerful that they can lead us down a rabbit trail of sin. When we gossip about others, we rationalize because we are angry and we need to “vent”. When we lie we again rationalize that the truth would hurt someone, so lying will be fine. Lying also leads to the hiding of other behaviors in our lives that we would rather keep hidden. If we are open and honest in community with others, if we stop hiding and pretending, then we will begin to change those other hidden parts of our lives, because our mouths have begun to speak the truth.

What would our lives look like if we spoke truth and love into the lives of those around us? If we called out injustice, while still loving the unjust. If we stopped hiding our faults and opened up with honesty to people we trust. If we only spoke of others the way God sees us, whole and beautiful images of the Creator. These would be beautiful things, but first, we need to start being honest with the one who loves us the most, and let God help us change our words and our world.

Questions for reflection and study: Whose words do you need to forgive, even when you don’t feel like the person deserves your forgiveness? What is one area in your life where words might change behavior or attitude? Where can you counter injustice with your words? How can those words lead to action?

See more devotions from Sara and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself, at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.