Writers are well aware that words have power. Choosing exactly the right words for any given sentence can be a painstaking exercise because you want your reader to experience the scene just like you do.
But the power of words reaches to even the furthest corners of our existence.
This morning, I read Matthew 5:21-22. Here’s what it says:
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (The Message)
Think about the sixth commandment, which very clearly states, “You shall not murder.” For the vast majority, this is clear enough and we get that God did not intend for this to be a suggestion or a guideline. It’s a command. Period.
But not only does this “written in stone” law prohibit the actual deed of murder, it extends to thoughts and words, to unrighteous anger and destructive insults. Calling another person stupid expresses contempt for their mind, and saying that they are a fool attacks their character. The above passage in Matthew indicates that the speaker of such words is on the brink of hellfire.
Yet, how thoughtlessly we fling words around, giving little attention to their destructive nature, their power, and their ability to kill. The consequences not only do damage to the one(s) to which we refer, but to our own eternal life.
Lord, help us to choose the right words – words that pour life and love and encouragement into the lives of the people around us.