We begin a new series called The Power of Words that helps us to see how the words we use have power to either give light or cloud in darkness. When we choose our words, we must remember their power.
The opening conversation will be an exploration on whether our words tear down or build up. Think of conversations that you’ve remembered for a long time. Chances are, some of those conversations were inspiring and life-giving; and some brought grief or pain or despair. I believe that God calls us to constantly speak words of love and light.
7People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. 8No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. 10Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way!
29Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.
Consider these questions:
- How do you hear and/or observe language being used? How do you use language? How do you observe language affecting people?
- Have you considered this idea of words having power? This is in contrast with the rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” What do you think about this?
Post-sermon follow up on 1/9
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s sermon had some emotional moments and audible responses from the congregation as I read some of the comments from my social media feeds related to bullying. I asserted then – and now – that words have power. When people are torn down so viciously and violently and when this happens with frequency, we can understand how people might begin to believe what they are told. We see it with teens, and the statistics related to teen bullying are mind-blowing. (Excerpt below – and much more – is from NoBullying.com)
- Bullied victims are 7 to 9 per cent more likely to consider suicide according to a study by Yale University.
- The Urban Institute’s study on bullying showed 17 per cent of students reported being victims of cyber bullying, 41 per cent victims of physical bullying, and 15 per cent experienced different kinds. About 50 per cent of girls experienced psychological bullying, and 45 per cent males physical bullying.
- According to a study by ABC News over 30,000 children stay home every day due to the fear of being bullied.
And as we discussed, our words can also build up. The full story I re-told about music teacher Audrey Hunt and her student Edward can be found at this link.
In all of this, we must acknowledge that words matter. Words have power. And every time we use words – in person, through text messages, through emails and social media – we make a choice to either tear down or to build up.
Consider these questions:
- Think of a time where words have had noticeable power. Did these words affect you directly? Indirectly? How did you feel?
- How have you experienced words tearing you (or others) down? How did you respond?
- How have you experienced words building you (or others) up? How did you respond?
- What can you do to build your own awareness of the choice to either tear down or build up?