The ability to speak and use words is crucial to our human existence. We need the spoken word from other people; we especially need to hear that we are loved and appreciated.
Imagine how you would feel if just for one single day you talked to a number of people, but no one responded; no one said a single word back to you. Now imagine that on the same day you wrote several e-mails and a couple of things on Facebook and sent some text messages and didn’t get a single response. No spoken word and no written word whatsoever. I am sure that you would be surprised, wondering what’s going on, and would maybe even be terrified. We need to communicate, to be heard, to speak our hearts to other people and to be understood.
Language is a gift that we don’t often appreciate. The fact that you and I can speak words and write words is a great blessing from our holy God. We use our words in ways both great—such as building relationships—and trivial—such as discussing the weather or sporting events. But this gift of words comes with a great responsibility: to use our words to glorify God—to build up, to encourage, and to show love.
Scripture is clear that words can be powerful. In Proverbs 18:21, we read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Growing up in Germany, I remember my pastor talking about a man who was about seventy years old. In his old age, he was still struggling with words that his mother had spoken to him when he was a child. Her words were: “We never wanted you; you were simply an accident.” With our words, we have the power to do good or to harm.
In Matthew 12, Jesus teaches the connection between our words and our hearts. He says that simply trying harder to be good will not work because the root of the problem is within us. He says:
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matt. 12:33–35)
The words we speak show what is in our hearts. If our hearts are evil, then the words we speak and write will be evil too. In James 3:8, God’s Word says: “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
Trying harder is not sufficient. What we need is a new heart—a heart that can only be given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. How can we receive a new heart? By confessing our sins to Jesus Christ, including our evil words, and by receiving His grace and forgiveness. If we repent and believe in Jesus Christ, then we can be assured that Almighty God says to us: “I love you with an everlasting love. My Son Jesus Christ has given His life so that you can live.”