Last night my wife and I saw image after devastating image on the television of the ruins of buildings in parts of Gaza. The latest attempt at a truce has allowed more media access to see the affects of the shelling there. I’m sure you’ve seen images like these too.
The announcers said rebuilding in Gaza from this latest conflict “could take decades and as much as 8 billion dollars. (And who can estimate the time it will take to even begin to rebuild devastated lives?)
Bombs and bullets have unbelievable power. But, so do. . .words.
Listen to this amazing verse from King Sulaiman – King Solomon (The Book of Proverbs, chapter 18:21):
“The tongue has the power of life and death. . .”
Your tongue – your words – can bring hope, encouragement, laughter, peace or. . . carnage and destruction.
There is another Scripture that speaks to the potential of your words for life or death (The Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 29):
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
Consider the meanings of these terms in the original language:
“unwholesome” = “rotten, putrid, worthless, unfit for use”
“building. . .up” = “to promote another’s growth”
“benefit” = “to give an undeserved gift”
See how others translate this verse (Ephesians 4:29):
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” (MSG)
Today – and every day – we have a power that is hard to imagine.
Words: the power of life. . .and death.
Speak life. . .
(PostScript: if we want to build bridges between Muslims and Christians and Jews – part of the purpose of this blog – we will have to choose our words very carefully in order to speak life and not death to one other. This is the way of love. This is the way of Isa al Masih – Jesus.)