Words have meaning. They can be simple and pristine, complex and nuanced. Most words are defined in precise ways, set by boundaries in terms of what they mean and what they don’t mean. Words and phrases used with an adherence to the integrity of their true and intended meaning have the power to surface and move ideas forward for the greater good of society – we’re all singing from the same songbook, eliminating misunderstandings that get in the way of progress, promoting greater grace in our interpersonal connections. The good use of words builds up and leads to love and life. And life abundantly, if you get my drift.
Words are powerful … literally. And absolutely sacred.
Here’s the prime example of how powerful words can be:
The universe was spoken into existence.
(Please open your Bible’s to page 1 of Genesis.)
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.”
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.”
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.”
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Do you see it? God speaks words to build up, give life, create possibilities, affirm harmony and order, and promote a thriving creation.
Ahh … you say, “But what about..??”
Let’s keep reading. (Please flip forward to Genesis 3).
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”[Planting doubt] 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Impugning motives]
There it is: Satan’s narrative planting doubt and impugning motives, two key steps in the process of indoctrination. Eve’s indoctrination led to a really bad choice, setting us up for a lifelong battle fighting between our desire to run our own kingdoms and our innate craving for fellowship with God. Do I hear Paul’s words from Romans 7? Thank God for Jesus.
To be clear and avoid rabbit trails in the comments (assuming this will get any comments – a big assumption), I’m not writing to debate the creation story. Don’t focus on that. I’m only trying to point out a simple truth. Language is a gift, and an incredibly powerful one at that. It can be used to enlighten, affirm, build up, encourage hearts, and bring people together with one another and with God. Or, it can be used with contempt to tear down, divide, and destroy, leading us astray from that which is for our greatest good.
It’s obvious that we haven’t changed much since Eve was persuaded that she could be like God, and then took the fatal bite. I’ve never in my life seen such a reprehensible misuse of language than what I’m seeing now. And the destructive consequences are mounting. Chaos is rising, division is taking hold, and our country’s collective soul is crying out. Without a return to the responsible use of language, we will perish into a chaos that only feeds on itself, destroying everything standing in its way that is contrary to its “narrative.”
Wait a minute. Don’t be disheartened. I know, a little tough after that, but remember.
God still reigns … why should our hearts be sad?. Those who persevere until the end will be saved.