Words That Change Reality

I want to encourage you to think of your words as a commodity to be spent and invested wisely.

Words RealityToday, I’d like to remind us (myself included) that words matter.

Prov. 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Over and over, Scripture warns and encourages us regarding the power of words.  

There is a linguistic theory called The Speech-Act Theory, which says that words not only have a surface meaning, they also have an intended meaning, which in turn, have an effect on the world.

This theory is used in hermeneutics (how to interpret God’s word) because it understands that God not only has said something in His Word, He had an intended meaning, which was meant to have an effect in the world.  Since we are made in His image, our words also have an intended meaning, which will affect our world. In other words, our words change reality.

I’d like to look at several Scripture references which show us the power of the tongue.

Creation

In Gen. 1:1 it says, “And God said” and creation happened.

He created the worlds by speaking! He brought order out of chaos.  Now, think about this…we are made in His image. What do we create with our words!  Chaos? Conflict? Peace? Rest?

Confession

Rom. 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Confessing with our words has huge impact on reality.  I can be saved!!! I can be healed!! I can be forgiven and cleansed!  How amazing is that!

Promise & Vows

Psalm 89: 34 “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.”

Duet. 23: 21-23 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. “However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.”

James 5:2 “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”

When God makes promises we can be assured it will come to pass.  The world will be different because of a promise. I then wonder, what happens in the spiritual realm when I make a promise?  Or when I break a promise? It seems we are warned to be very careful with our words when it comes to promises and vows (and it’s different than a yes or a no), because they have implication that it changes something in the spiritual realm.   

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

When we forgive, something changes whereby God can then forgive me!  The reality of my own bondage is broken.

Truth

John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Speaking the truth brings freedom.  If you feel in bondage, Scripture says we break free by speaking the truth about it.

Blessing

Gen. 1:22 God blessed them, saying (with words), “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

1 Peter 3:8-9 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

We see many accounts of blessings in Genesis: Abraham blessed Isaac, Isaac blessed Jacob, Jacob blessed his twelve sons including Ephraim before Manasseh. And we see multiple accounts of God blessing Abraham’s descendants.  We see Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing, showing it’s a thing that can be stolen and it’s a thing to be inherited.

A blessing calls out good and impacts the trajectory of an heir.  We are called to give a blessing even to those who are evil to us so that we also might inherit a blessing. Sweet!   Our words of blessing have impact and changes the world around us.

Prayer

Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Can prayer really keep us from even being tempted?  Can we find healing through prayer? Of course, prayer always changes things, even if it just gives me peace.  But there are millions and millions of stories of God interceding because of prayer.

Encouragement

Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

It seems here that encouragement helps keep us from a hardened heart.  That’s pretty important!

Warnings

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

We are warned here that judgments, condemnation as well as pardon all have a boomerang effect.  They have an impact on us. These are not just emotions that sit inside of us. These emotions come out in everything we do including our expressions, actions, and words.  Words of judgement and condemnation also have impact on the world.

We also see in many parts of Scripture huge warnings to be careful with our speech.

Ecc. 10:12 “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him.”

Matthew 12:35-37 “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Eph. 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

Eph. 5:4 “and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Col. 3:8 “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

This is a short list of the many, many times in Scripture we are warned to watch our speech because it has incredible impact on our world.  And it has incredible impact on us! We are not called to shaming, condemnation, or ridicule. This does not exhibit the heart of God. Our words matter.

I’m going to stop here because this is a blog post and not a book. But I could go on with what the Bible tells us about grumbling, disputing, empty chatter, worship/singing, wisdom, teaching, preaching, thanksgiving, and the Word of Life.

Walk by Grace

My friends, I want to encourage you to think of your words as a commodity to be spent and invested wisely.  Words of derision, mockery, contempt, ridicule, judgement, and shame will all take away from this world. Words of truth, blessing, forgiveness, love, and prayers will bring the Kingdom of God crashing into earth!  Because they have impact on the world, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col. 4:8)

 

When It’s Hard to Believe

I wondered why I was having such a difficult time believing I couldn’t do this.

When It's Hard To Believe
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Once again, I was sitting at a computer trying to figure out how to get a video to play from the internet, through a projector and onto the screen.  Seemed to me that this should be a simple task.  But I’ve struggled with this more than once. And, if I’m going to be honest, I’ve probably struggled with it a dozen times.

So, I contacted our amazing, can-do-anything-on-a-computer tech guy with, “I realize I’ve probably asked you this before, and I think I know the answer, I’m just having a hard time believing the answer.  Is there no possible way to play a video from  the internet, through our program, onto the screen in the multi-purpose room?”  His answer was “nope.”

I sat there for a few minutes trying to wrap my mind around his answer.  Really?  In the 21st century, when computers can do ANYTHING, I can’t do this?  I wondered why I was having such a difficult time believing I couldn’t do this.

And then it dawned on me.  I’m having a hard time accepting “nope” because I don’t want to believe it.  I WANT to play this video for an audience on a particular night.  I want this computer, this little intangible, life-sucking thing, to do what I want it to do.

And then all the connections started to make sense.  This is why someone has a hard time believing how their spouse’s brooding, cold-shoulder is devastating their family.  This is why a person may have a hard time owning their resentment and hatred for their spouse.  This is why a parent can’t wrap their minds around the fact that their teenaged child is making (poor) decisions on their own and they can’t control them anymore.  And this is why an adult child can’t stop trying to please a destructive parent.  There are reasons we hold on to what we hold on to.  If we believed it, we’d have to stop trying to make something happen.  We would need to stop trying to suck love out of someone who can’t give it.  And it hurts to let go of what we want.   

In letting go of my little computer struggle I found freedom.  Freedom to not try to come up with ways to get it done and freedom to find alternative solutions.   I can’t make the computer do what it’s not capable of doing.  When I was able to accept the reality of my situation, I was able to stop spinning in circles and move forward.