In 1998, Jewish Rabbi Joseph Telushkin published a book entitled, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal. His thesis is that words have inherent power and can be used for good or ill; to build up or tear down; to inspire the spirit or crush it. Words can put a baby to sleep or they can start a nuclear war.
Another Rabbi, Yehuda Berg, agrees with Telushkin that words contain a nuclear type of energy, saying, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.”
In James 3, the apostle is trying to convince us that Yehuda Berg just may be right. “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.”
Some of us may push back, saying, actually, “Actions speak more loudly than words.” Or, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
I think there is truth in that—especially when we consider the actions of Jesus in the cross, who didn’t just say I love you, he showed it. He proved it. Then again, we remember that the apostle John called Jesus “the Word.” God has given us the written Word and the living, incarnate Word.
So, we are not dealing with an either/or conversation—words or actions— but a both/and conversation.
Today we are focusing on the inherent power of words, which are quite possibly “the singularly most powerful force available to humanity.From our own experience, many of us know the power of words.
The ditty says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But we know that just the opposite is true.
Broken bones heal.
But some of us are still deeply wounded by hurtful words. And the closer the people are to us who wound us, the deeper and more devastating the wound.
Especially the power of a father’s words. Some of us are living to hear words of approval and affirmation and validation from our fathers. Or, if you are female, it is probably your mother.
“Words are the most powerful force available to humanity”?
What if I really believed that? How might it change the way we use words?
That is what we want to discover as we allow God to speak to us from James 3:1-12.