Why Our Words Matter
Words matter because words create reality. For example, words create love, inspiration, beauty, and hope. But the creative power of words does not stop with the creation of good things. Sadly, words also create doubt, despair, hatred, and confusion.
We see the creative power of words for good in the opening pages of the Bible. God speaks and his good creation comes into being. We also see the destructive power of words. Satan speaks and humanity is plunged into darkness, confusion, hiding, and shame.
Additionally, in the opening pages of the Bible we see that God made the human race in his image. This means that every human has dignity, value, and worth, because every human is made in the image of an infinitely valuable God. Being made in God’s image is the reason we long for things like justice and equality and why we get angry when justice doesn’t reign.
When you put the power of words together with the understanding that every single human is made in God’s image, the implication is clear: how we speak about one another matters. We can use our words to bless or curse. We can use our words to spread hope, or hatred. Additionally, those of us who are committed to following Jesus must not only use words to spread the gospel of God’s love, we also must speak when people slander the image of God in fellow human beings.
I bring this up because I am concern about the way words are being used in my country.
Before going further, let me say I’m a pastor of a particular people, in a particular place, in a particular moment in human history. As a pastor, my job is to shepherd, meaning I am to feed, guide, protect, train, and strength people. My primary tool to do this work is words – God’s Word revealed in the Bible and then my word explaining and applying the Bible.
All that is to say, I spend a lot of time thinking about words. And so perhaps because of my job, I am keenly aware of how words impact people. As such, I cannot be quiet when I see so many people in my country, especially those in power, using words to hurt, slander, and dismiss the image and likeness of God in fellow humans.
I know many people are rightly upset about the recent remarks made by our president that elevated one country over another, and slandered countries where the image of God is beautifully displayed. These remarks are symptoms of a far more serious problem. In general, my country doesn’t value the image of God, nor do we see the massive power of our words.
I am honestly at a loss for how to turn this tide in my country. Many hearts will need to be made soft to value God’s image and speak in a way that brings life, healing, and hope. This is ultimately a work of God, not man.
So what do we do? At the very least, those of us who love Jesus can speak up and say, “Something is wrong. Disgracing the image of God in fellow humans is evil. It must not be tolerated in the church, and the church must pray and work to see the transformation of our culture.” In other words, we who have heard the gospel of God’s love for all people, must use words in a way that brings faith, hope, and love.
I believe as we do this, God’s Spirit will work to create a kingdom of people who value God’s image in all the nations of the earth and who speak in a way that helps others to recognize, value, and protect the image and likeness of God in all people.
So today I am praying for God’s Spirit to work in my country and I am practicing speaking in a way that leads to love.