She sat on the floor in the dark corner of her bedroom. Her head rested on her knees. “You’re worthless,” she muttered to herself. “You can’t do anything right.” “I’m such an idiot.” She repeated the phrases over and over. They were like a mantra. Eventually, she started believing the phrases she repeated each night. Her performance suffered. Her work began showing mistakes. She began living up to the words she had convinced herself were true.
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life. (James 3:5-6a, ESV)
The power of the tongue, the power of words, is recognized throughout the Bible. It is a topic spoken of extensively in Proverbs and the New Testament. Our last study addressed how words can be used to destroy others, but words can also be used to destroy ourselves. Even when alone, we need to be mindful of what we say about ourselves. Otherwise, we might start believing the lies. It is also important to be careful what we say in public.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. (Acts 5:1-10, ESV)
Ananias and Sapphira learned how ones own words can be used to harm themselves. They plotted in secret, but nothing is ever secret from the Lord. Their own words, their own lies, cost them their lives, all because they wanted to look better in front of others.
In today’s politically correct charged environment, a persons words can be their downfall. Politicians have discovered this, like former President George HW Bush. During his election campaign, he promised his supporters “No new taxes.” After breaking this promise, he failed to be reelected. Failing to uphold his words led to his downfall. Roseanne Barr was a successful comedian and television star with a hit series in 1990s. Twenty years after the show ended, it was brought back to television, with the original cast, and was an immediate success! But surprisingly, it didn’t last. Shortly after the show returned to television, Roseanne posted a racist and offensive tweet. Despite the high ratings, her show was swiftly cancelled. Her harmful words about others not only rightfully cost Rosanne her job, but also negatively affected all those employed for the show.
If, as studied previously, the words we say to others is important, then it is just as important what we say to ourselves and about ourselves! We are to use our words to empower, instruct, and heal others. Why should we not be doing the same for ourselves. Our words are with us constantly - running silently through our head or being spoken softly aloud, for our ears only. It is important that these words be used to help us, and not harm us.
Our words can be used against us by others. Lies and deceptions can ruin friendships, families, and reputations. When our own words are used against us, the outcome is our fault, our responsibility. Just as it is our responsibility for what we tell ourselves. As followers of Christ, we must hold ourselves accountable for what we say. Ananias and Sapphira refused responsibility, resulting in their deaths. Roseanne Barr failed to think about what she was saying before sharing her thoughts with the world. The consequences that come from our actions, our words, are our responsibility. Watch your words! Before it is too late!
Words have power! Words have the power to create! Words have the power to deceive and manipulate! Words have power in silence! Words should be used carefully! Words reflect our heart! Words have the power to instruct! Words have the power to teach! Words have the power to destroy others! Words have the power to destroy ourselves!