For a long time I have been fascinated by the power of well-used words to convey important truths, meaning, and emotion. The ability to communicate by the use of sounds or written symbols is a special gift, the extension of the human spirit. Though communication does not appear to be peculiar to the human species, people have been given the gift of intelligence and communication in a way that enables them to have dominion over every other form of life in the world. Words enable humans to collaborate, to organize, and to create systems of control in relation to their environment so that they can experience comfort and meaning.
The Apostle James must have been thinking about the power of words when he wrote about the tongue in the 3rd chapter of his Epistle. He writes there that the tongue, despite its small size, is the most powerful force in the world — especially when it comes to evil. Just as a small spark can set a whole forest on fire, so the tongue has the capacity to corrupt the entire human personality. And though mankind has effectively tamed animals and birds of every description, the tongue has remained untameable. It is the supreme evidence of human sin and corruption. When mankind fell into sin at the very beginning of creation, the first thing effected was human communication.
If one thinks about it very much at all, it is soon evident that words are at the centre of our great relational difficulties in the world. Jesus confirmed this by saying it wasn’t what went into our mouths that corrupted us, but what came out of them. This is so, he said, because speech is an expression of the heart (Matthew 15:16-120).
But since the heart of a person can be redeemed, regenerated, and restored to its original design — through faith in Jesus Christ (i.e. Ephesians 2:1-19), it can once again produce words that are beautiful and edifying. And so it becomes evident that though the tongue is often a corrupting tool in our world, it also has the capacity, by the grace of God, to be powerfully used for good.
I have been thinking a lot about this due to a couple of instances recently in which I have been greatly enriched both in soul and spirit by good words. One of them has been through the reading of an excellent book authored by Tim Keller, called, Making Sense of God. In this, one of his most recent books, he has a way of writing about the philosophical contradictions in our modern world with respect to how we approach questions of meaning in life, happiness, death, morality and others. I couldn’t help but be deeply impressed with the way in which he effectively uses words to communicate such reasonable and convincing arguments concerning faith toward God.
In another instance I listened today, to a recorded message, about the subject of heaven by a pastor called, David Jeremiah. As I listened, once again I was intellectually and spiritually moved by the pleasing way in which he used words to convey the meaning of the Bible on matters that have to do with life after death. The message was a master-piece in terms of content, delivery, and impact concerning the importance of being prepared for death and eternity.
In view of how words can be used for good, it’s significant that Jesus came to this world as the Word who existed from the very beginning, with God and as God (John 1:1). Jesus was God’s best Word to the world by which he communicated the very best He could for our blessing and benefit. As the Word from God, Jesus fully represented all that could be known about God to our human understanding. And in view of the fact that Christ’s fullness fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23), John’s comment at the end of his epistle makes perfect sense — that he supposes the whole world would not be able to contain the books that could be written concerning Christ (John 21:25).
As I have recently undertaken to publish a book, I am excited about the possibility of how words can be used in that form to inform, create, and ultimately bless the world in the way God intends. I desire that this would also be true in the messages that I have the privilege of speaking and the conversations in which I am able to share. It is with this in mind that I sympathize deeply with the words of David in Psalm 19:14, when he said, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.