We live with a crisis of words. We live at a time when the power of words is not recognized. But our words are important and powerful. God Himself used words to create the worlds. The Gospel of John says that Jesus is the very Word of God, that was made flesh, and came and dwelt among us. We are even told that we will be held accountable for every word we speak.
It is with words that we commit to each other, make legal agreements and give our children the security they need to live and be successful.
Recently in the news, we were told of the suicide of a young girl because she was bullied. Nine youths have been charged.
A man in Yakima was arrested because he was accused of calling and threatening to kill U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
A diplomat from Qatar, Mohammed Al-Madidi, smoked a cigarette on an airplane recently, and when confronted about the illegal smoke, jokingly replied, "I am just trying to light my shoe on fire." He is not welcome back in our country.
These people didn't shoot anyone; they didn't rob anyone; they didn't smash a car through a building - but their words have had a huge impact on their own lives and on the lives of many others. What is said is more than "just words."
In our own lives, we have felt the impact of words. Families have been broken; hearts have been wounded; money has been mishandled and many hours of sleep have been lost. Grown men shed tears because their fathers never told them they were loved or even liked. They say things like, "All he did was ridicule and put me down" or "I could never please him." Words that were said or even never said had a great impact on their lives.
We have to be honest with the impact of our own words. Have I bullied others with my words? Years down the road, what will my son tell his counselor about what my words implanted in his heart? What have I said in anger that did damage to others, and even to myself? Do my words encourage others, or is my tongues sharp, inflicting pain on those around me?
The Bible tells us that every kind of animal has been tamed, but that no man can tame the tongue. We need help.
Many of us don't even have good examples of words around us, but only of words that kill and destroy. It is time to go to the one who has the words of life, Jesus. To find guidance to give words that build up, encourage, edify, to make others happier and better people.
What would Walla Walla be like if everyone asked God this week to help tame his or her tongue? Ask Him to start working in your heart so that the words that come out of it will reflect a healed heart. Be aware of your words, so that you can correct them and handle them in a way that glorifies God and blesses those around you.
Your words are powerful. They can hurt and even kill. Your words can also bring life, hope and encouragement.
It is time to take our words seriously. After all, they are not "just words."
The Rev. Kent Mayberry is pastor of New Hope Christian Church, which meets at Central Christian Church, 66 S. Palouse St. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.