The Power of Words

Be Kind

Speak Lord; I’m Listening – Daily Bite-Size Encouragement – Day 9

The tongue is a powerful instrument for good and evil. King Solomon declared, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].1

The Good Powered Tongue

When we speak out of compassion, we bring hope to the hearer. When we display kindness through our words, it communicates love and value to our listeners. King Solomon stated, “The tongue of the righteous is like choice silver.” And “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”2

I remember encouraging words spoken by my parents, high school teachers, and kind neighbors, and I’m sure you do too.

I appreciate how Lucy Maud Montgomery summarizes simple pleasures in her book, Anne of Avonlea. “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” Kind words are like pearls; we add each kind word and have a necklace before long.

The Evil Powered Tongue

When we speak out of indifference, those who hear us feel worthless. When we display cruelness, or outright hatred, our spitefulness can cause our listeners mental and physical problems.

“Research shows that if someone breaks a social norm, our brains treat their faces as less human. This makes it easier for us to punish people who violate norms of behavior.” A recent example in history of dehumanizing people is when “the Nazi Party dehumanized Jewish people by calling them vermin and lice. The Nazis dehumanized and murdered millions of people during the Holocaust at concentration camps.”3

We hear stories of bullying in school and how the bullying causes mental anguish, anxiety, and even anorexia. Bullying leads to a distorted perception of people’s self-worth and value, leading to severe psychological and physical complications, even death.4

King Solomon rightly stated, “The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” And, “The things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile the man.”5

Media Power

Mass media wields power for good and evil. One of my favorite media people is Steve Hartman. His ‘On the Road’ stories are sweet and endearing. One of Steve’s stories is about a duck imprinting on a little girl, and the little girl thinks she is the duck’s Mom. During the pandemic, Steve Harman teamed up with his children to do a series called ‘Kindness 101’. Steve illustrates media bringing hope, uplifting education, inspiration, and laughter.6

Media can also have adverse effects. I remember the story of Amanda Knox, the exchange student from Seattle, Washington, to Italy. A burglar killed her roommate, yet the media wrongfully accused her, tried her in print and found her guilty. The Italian court convicted her in December 2009, and the conviction was overturned in October 2011. Amanda was retried in September 2013, reconvicted in January 2014, and the sentence was again overturned in March 2015.

After four years in jail and eight years fighting for her freedom, Amanda still fights today to restore her excellent reputation, unfairly destroyed when groundlessly convicted in print and court. Today, Amanda Knox is a writer and activist for the wrongfully accused and addresses public shaming.

I recently heard about cancel culture. My understanding is that when cancel culture is applied, a person is publicly humiliated through a public exposure (similar to what happened to Amanda Knox). “Once the person has been exposed, he is pushed mercilessly to confess and apologize. Whether the person has done anything that requires regret is irrelevant. Simply to be accused means a retraction and an apology is expected.” Through mass media, punishment is swift through the loss of reputation, social media accounts closed, loss of employment, depriving of social outreach, etc.7

Not only does cancel culture verbally thrash and try a person in the media, but they are also physically, financially, and mentally abused. Some people are entirely innocent, yet in print, they are made guilty. This doesn’t seem right. Bullying in print or person is just wrong.

Every social justice person cringes when we see history repeat itself. Cancel culture is similar to tar and feathering done during the early 1900s to anyone who violated the culture’s racial code. It was known as ritual shaming. Unfortunately, today we see ritual shaming done against people for religious, political, economic, and gender reasons. Whether you call it wrongfully accusing, public shaming, cancel culture, or ritual shaming, the bottom line is the same; it’s bullying. It’s inhumane, and it’s wrong.8

The media needs to be held accountable for promoting and rewarding this bullying type of behavior for its own financial benefit.

Accountability

I appreciate how Jesus Christ portrays the tongue, “The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things. I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give an account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words, you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”9

And we can move forward by cultivating “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”10 If we choose to sow kindness, we, and those close to us, and eventually the world will reap a harvest of kindness.

Know that our kind words and actions are powerful and will have a ripple effect. Andy Andrews refers to this as ‘The Butterfly Effect,’ meaning what we do matters. It matters today, and it matters in our future. Andrew’s Butterfly Effect is similar to the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. In the film, James Stewart portrays what the town would be like with and without his presence.

The bottom line is our lives matter. We deserve to be treated kindly and decently. We need to believe people are innocent until proven guilty. We can refuse to participate in gossip and slander, whether in person or via print in a paper or social media site. We may not be able to do much, but we can choose to do our part by refusing to participate in any type of bullying. Words of kindness and love will win in the end.

How will you show the power of kindness today – in person? In social media?

Recommendations:

To learn more about our Words Words Seasoned with Grace – Strength with Dignity

We can cultivate kindness Kindness – One of the 9 Fruits of the Spirit – Strength with Dignity

We can wear kindness Kindness – One of 8 Garments to Wear – Strength with Dignity

References:

1 Proverbs 18:21 AMPC

2 Proverbs 10:20a WEB; Proverbs 16:24 WEB

3 McCarthy-Jones, Simon. Why Some People Are Cruel to Others. Part of Life’s Big Questions Series published by The Conversation and co-published with BBC Future. Published October 21, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201016-why-some-people-are-cruel-to-others

4 Anorexia Nervosa. Published by the Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 9, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anorexia-nervosa/symptoms-causes/syc-20353591

5 James 3:5 NASB; Matthew 15:18-20a WEB

6 YouTube – A Girl’s Unbreakable Bond with Her Pet Duck Grows Deeper Every Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBKEtSgGhi8

7 Jeremiah, Dr. David. A Political Prophecy – Cancel Culture. Published October 7, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2021, from https://www.faithgateway.com/a-political-prophecy-cancel-culture/#.YWJbF9rMKUk

8 Harris, J. William. “Etiquette, Lynching, and Racial Boundaries in Southern History: A Mississippi Example.” The American Historical Review, vol. 100, no. 2, [Oxford University Press, American Historical Association], 1995, pp. 387–410, https://doi.org/10.2307/2169004. Retrieved October 9, 2021, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/2169004

9 Matthew 12:35-37 WEB

10 Galatians 5:22 NASB

Amplified Bible, Classis Edition (AMPC) Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.

New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.

 

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6 thoughts on “The Power of Words”

  1. This is such a need right now. People seem to have forgotten basic kindness. And unfortunately, too many Christians are arguing all over social media about nonessential things instead of using their words for good. May God open our eyes to use our words for Him.

  2. Excellent! Well put and succinct, and a very important topic. I was unsure about Amanda Knox; I never did hear the final outcome, so I’m glad you told me. Love Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books and her lovely words!

    1. Words are so powerful for good and for harm, it’s so important that we watch our words. Thanks for the encouragement, Janine.

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