A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! — Proverbs 15: 23
Let us use our words to create joyful interactions with others.
Words are powerful. With words empires have fallen, countless lives have been lost, and conflicts have been created that have lasted for ages. Inversely, words have united people, expressed love, given encouragement, provided counsel, and have comforted. We have often heard the expression: “The pen is mightier than the sword,” which further implies the amount of power that both the written and spoken word have in our world.
The power of the tongue
James describes the power of the word very clearly in his epistle. Words can bring about a lot of good, but they can also do a lot of harm. Words can edify, but they can also destroy. We should all beware of what we say. That is why we have to act responsibly and be careful with what we say and how we say it (James 3: 1–12).
God as the word
In John 1 the essence of Jesus Christ is described as the Word (Logos). The Logos is the true power which marked the beginning of creation. Here, Word and God are directly correlated (John 1: 1 / Catechism 3.4.2). The Word became flesh in Jesus Christ and lived in fellowship with man. Thus the power and glory of God was made manifest in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, giving complete credence to Christ’s teaching: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24: 35).
What is our speech like?
“God created man as a being endowed with speech. This too is related to mankind having been created in God’s image” (Catechism 3.3.2 /\ Catechism-QA 81–83). Let us look at our words in this context. How often have we hoped to say the right word at the right time? Our Bible text speaks about this. How do we do this?
- It starts with our heart and the disposition we have towards Christ and our neighbour. If our disposition is determined by love, this is represented in our speech.
- Self-control, a fruit of the Spirit, must be exercised when we speak the truth. It must be done in love. This prevents us from gossip and damaging speech.
- Seeking divine wisdom is also necessary. This is provided when we engage the Holy Spirit— the repository of all the words of God. He teaches us who Jesus Christ is and who we are.
Let us make the effort to have edifying conversations with each other. This will not only be a great source of joy in our congregations, but will also create pleasure and interest in the people we connect with in our communities. This is a way we can profess the love of Jesus Christ and come closer to Him in the process.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on 31 July 2016 at Midrand Congregation.