From the Archives: WORDS

Whilst reading through older READY magazines we came across this short piece from former General Secretary Mr Stokes. Although written in 1977, the words in it are still applicable to us today. We hope this will be a good encouragement to all who read it.

Words are the stock-in-trade of us all. We use them so regularly that we scarce give time to consider their real significance. The following thoughts are drawn from the wise counsel of the Book of Proverbs.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Words penetrate. What is done to us is one thing but what is done in us is another. The feelings may be lacerated by a cruel or clumsy threat like “the piercings of a sword” and “a wounded spirit who can bear”. Equally we may be vitalised by a “timely word”. We can be influenced against another person by a whisper and we must beware that we are not classed as whisperers for it is written “the words of a tale-bearer are as wounds”. Likewise flattery is dangerous, for “a man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet”. We are all exposed daily to the danger of these things.

Words impress. They are used to implant ideas in other people’s minds. Their words ramify for good or evil. Without the use of words the Christian cannot really communicate his message. We must never forget the sacrament of the spoken word, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”. “An ungodly man diggeth up evil and in his lips there is as a burning fire.” “A good man will find recompense to sound speech.”

In our daily spread of words we need to remember their weaknesses. They are no substitute for deeds and they cannot change facts nor cover them. “If thou sayest, behold, we knew it not: doth not he that keepeth thy soul, doth he not know it? and shall he not render to every man according to his works.” Words of themselves cannot compel response. Spicy gossip has power over the listener only in so far as he himself is an evildoer and a walking falsehood in whom the taste for gossip overcomes the love of truth.

The power of words at their best is seen in other references in the Book of Proverbs. Positive marks are seen in the life when words are regulated by honesty, brevity, calmness and aptness. This enshrines the thought of craftsmanship for then truths can stick.

Such marks in the life lead to the making of words. This requires study and means a man must first listen to God. It enriches the character, for what a man says is the sum of what he is. We must keep our hearts with all diligence.

By nature our words weigh against us. God has given us not just words but a Word, whose Redemptive Act challenges the world and must continue so to do. He can deliver us not only from our sins but from ourselves. Religion to be real must be a religion of the heart. Finally, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” and that involves obedience to what he says.