Your Words Have Power – It Matters How You Use Them

Have you ever made a texting blunder where you thought you were sending a message to one person and instead it was someone else? I certainly have and I was so glad I didn’t say anything bad or embarrassing. 

Social media is a whole other story. You probably have seen some pretty ugly words written on various platforms.

Hurtful words are common when people are not face-to-face. The emotional level can escalate rapidly on social media between complete strangers.

On the other hand, the right words of encouragement on those same platforms make me feel good. I want to remember them. 

Your words have power to make or break another person’s day. They also have the power to ruin your reputation if you don’t use them wisely.

The Bible tells us “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28 ESV

Words have power to change the brain

There is scientific evidence that words have power. They can have a huge influence on a person’s pain levels, and affect healing from an injury. Bullying and verbal abuse can cause PTSD, depression, and anxiety (1)

Additionally, “negative words release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones… and contribute to long-term anxiety” (2)

In contrast, “recent studies show that over time, concentrating on positive thoughts can shrink the size of the brain’s fear center. It can also make us smarter by increasing the thickness of the neocortex which is associated with our higher-order thinking.” (3) 

What Scripture says about words

In the last couple of decades, scientific studies have supported what the Bible has been telling us all along. Our words have power in many different ways. 

Death and life are in the power of our words. (Paraphrase of Proverbs 18:21)

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ESV

Talk about the power of words, like a “sword thrust”. Ouch. A careless word can hurt deeply, and even destroy someone’s self-confidence or worse,  their reputation. 

In contrast, kind words can help heal verbal wounds. 

I don’t want to hurt people with my speech, but rather give them positive words that help heal. My words have power to do both.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” ESV

Do words have power? Think about a time when someone spoke positive verbal affirmations to you or about you. It was like a breath of fresh air.

Those good words were “just what the doctor ordered” to bring about a sense of well-being. They were healthy for your emotions and in turn for your body. 

Photo of a person stating that words have power from Proverbs 15:4, "Gentle words give life."
“Gentle words give life.” (Paraphrase from Proverbs 15:4

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”  ESV

“Gentle”. That is how we handle fragile babies, and that is how we are to speak to each other, in a loving way. Since we don’t know what is going on with those around us, we can’t appreciate how they feel.

Many people are fragile. Let’s not break their spirit. Our choice of words can make or break their day. 

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue  … this person’s religion is worthless.” ESV

A lot of people claim to be religious, but their mouth gives them away. If we are not concerned about how our words affect others, our religion is of no value. Our words have power in the wrong way.

Where might this tendency show up? When we get angry, frustrated, or embarrassed. It’s easy to lash out at others when we feel this way. But other Scripture tells us that what comes out of our mouth is what is already in our hearts. (Luke 6:45).

So what do we need to do? We need to “bridle” our tongue. Similar words are “hold in check or restrain.” Quite simply, we need to think before we speak. 

“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 hear30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one anothertenderheartedforgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ESV (from Bible Gateway)

I am so glad that the Bible gives us more than what not to do. This Scripture passage is a great example of how we are to speak to each other. 

  • words good for building up
  • words that give grace to those who hear
  • kind words
  • tenderhearted words
  • forgiving words

Your words have power to do all of that.

“Let your words be gracious, seasoned with salt.” (Paraphrase of Colossians 4:6)

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” ESV

Before refrigeration, salt was used to preserve meat and keep it from rotting. It was also considered a valuable commodity for commerce.

Jesus used the concept of salt as part of a job description for His followers. (Matthew 5:13). In the same way that salt preserves food, the influence of Christians helps to preserve a world of people that is getting more rotten as time goes on.

So when our words are gracious and kind, we help preserve our own reputation, the self-worth of others, and God’s reputation when we claim to be Christians.

Words have power. Never underestimate that truth.

What Jesus said about words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 ESV

Our spoken word has real power. Unfortunately, it can be used as a weapon to destroy.

The word “careless” here is explained in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as meaning several things, but for our purposes, we will focus on “unprofitable” or “pernicious”. Most everyone understands the first one. If it isn’t going to benefit anyone then we need to keep our mouths shut. 

But to dig a little deeper, “pernicious” means, “Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way” according to Oxford Languages. Similar words are 

  • damaging
  • destructive
  • hurtful
  • detrimental. 

How many times on social media do you see words used the wrong way to tear down, damage, and destroy others? Let’s not be a part of that. 

The power of your words is addressed here by Jesus. We will be judged for anything that does not have a positive impact on others. 

The most powerful words of all 

So what are we to do if we are having trouble with the way we speak? We need to experience the power of God in our lives

The most powerful words of all come straight from God himself. They are found in the Bible. 

Here is what the Bible says about itself: 

“For the word of God is alive and POWERFUL. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 NLT

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people TO DO EVERY GOOD WORK.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

What God says has the power to change us. It is the most powerful force we can experience. 

When it comes to our words, it all begins in our minds and God is the author of thinking positive things. 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

So don’t beat yourself up with negative self-talk if you are having trouble with your speech. Significant change is available to you through a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can “chat” with them online from anywhere in the world.  If you live in the United States, you can call or text them. They are available any time of the day or night. 

A daily prayer for our words

This very brief prayer was written by a man who loved God deeply. They are wise words for all of us. 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT

If we said this simple prayer every morning as we are getting out of bed, it would have a huge impact on our entire day. 

Photo of 4 Scripture cards with the verse from Psalm 19:14.
These four Scripture cards are taken from Psalm 19:14

You can download this prayer as Scripture cards.

  • Print them on card stock,
  • cut them apart,
  • and then laminate them to carry in your purse,
  • use them as a bookmark,
  • or put one on your bathroom mirror to see first thing in the morning.

They are a free gift. Here is the link.

You might also like to read: Are your thoughts holding you captive?

References: 

  1. Psych CentralPsych Central
  2. BRM Institute
  3. World Full Of Bliss

Leave a Comment

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content