“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to also bridle his whole body.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
There’s an old playground saying that’s used as a defense against being called a mean name. You’ve probably said it before: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s a smart retort in the face of an ugly word, but it is entirely false.
Words are powerful. Words are what God used to create the world. Over and over again in Genesis 1 we see God calling creation into existence with words. “And God said…and it was so,” is the refrain repeated over and over again. The Scriptures are described as containing the words of life. By the words of the Bible a person’s path can be transformed from death to life.
Our words today are powerful still. With our words we can speak realities into existence. We can bring life or death to another person. We can lift up flagging spirits or set someone on a course for destruction. Words can heal, but contrary to the playground retort, they can absolutely hurt.
Because of the power of words, as followers of the one who is described as the Word made flesh, we must be incredibly cautious to use our words wisely and well. James makes the bold claim here that if a person can get to the point that she never sins in what she says, she will be free from sin altogether. I think this is a bit of an exaggeration in order to make the point, but it’s not much of one.
How are you using your words? Are you mostly encouraging others or tearing them down? Are you creating possibilities or destroying them? Are you bringing life to your circumstances or unleashing death into them? Are you honoring your Lord or denying Him? Use your words well and the opportunities before you will be unlimited.