Friday, April 12, 2013

The Power of Words

The Bible speaks extensively about the power of words – especially positive ones – and warns about the dangers of careless ones. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” says Proverbs 15:1. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones,” Proverbs 16:24 adds. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And Matthew 12:36-37 says: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Many people have useful knowledge -- on one subject or another -- but it is a rare, and wise, person who knows when and where to communicate his knowledge. The circumstances that govern the time and place are many and varied and are carefully weighed by the wise, whereas others will bubble out their knowledge like a fountain that cannot be controlled. Relevance is unimportant to them because their purpose is not to inform but to impress. Their speech lacks order and flows rapidly and continuously. They are fools. Why is it that so many feel compelled to reassure themselves and others of their worth by this artificial device? "Knowledge puffeth up" in a very real way in many individuals (1Co 8:1). How refreshing it is to encounter someone intent on imparting his knowledge for the good it will do and for no other reason! "By their fruits you shall know them" (Mat 7:16,20; 12:33; cf Luk 6:43-45; Jam 3:12). "Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness -- and the fool multiplies words" (Ecc 10:12-14). 

Here is the essence of diffusing a possible volatile situation. If a person is verbally accosting us, instead of returning the same type of words being thrown at us, what we need to do is to give a soft or sensitive answer. This does not mean we are weak, but it means we are wise. If you will notice that the phrase “grievous words” carries with it the idea of offensive words and not defensive words. In an argument, both sides will use offensive words and instead of mollifying the situation, it begins to fan the flame higher until there could be physical harm to each other. A good biblical example of this is when David had set out to kill Nabal but Abigail heard of it and had approached David and pacified him with her gestures of kindness (1 Samuel 25). It is always better to defuse a situation than to add fuel to the fire. This is where the meekness of the believer comes in. Meekness is intentional humility and when others see how well you handled it, it will create a witness opportunity. Try being a witness after a loud insulting battle with someone. Ask people to come to the Lord after you have used derogatory terms toward another, even if they were at fault and see what kind of response you get.

 Learn from those who criticize you!

One of the main ways He does that is through the correction, reproof, and criticism of others. In Proverbs, God repeatedly lets us know that one of the wisest things we can do is accept, embrace and learn from criticism. Even when a person criticizes you out of bad motives and malice, there is almost always some kernel of truth in what they are saying—something you can receive from God with gratitude and grow from it.

The Bible tells us to be walking portraits of Jesus. We represent Christ to the world without distortion. We're to be conformed to His image. That requires integrity. The Old Testament heroes like Daniel and his three friends maintained their integrity in a hostile environment. In the New Testament, the apostles and disciples did the same. Our society badly needs to see Christ in us -- His joy, His honesty, His love, His humility. We're to reflect Christ today, tomorrow and forever.


Raj Kosaraju


No comments:

Post a Comment