Updated: Jun 4
My tongue and its power; in the midst of turmoil I forget. In the midst of anger I forget. In the midst of guilt, shame and hardship... I forget that God will back everything I say, good or bad. How do I know this? One: The manual to life tells me this. Two: I pay attention to my experience and the experience of other Christians.
Since the time of my childhood; I’ve known that, as long as I’m stubborn, as long as I hold in and claim accomplishment before I make it, I will make it. The deeper I get into Christianity, the more I understand why my words work so directly for or against me or other people, why my words have so much power.
Who is this for?
Everyone. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t done (or doesn’t still do) at least one of the following:
Use words that are unmistakably damaging or seriously hurtful; either toward themselves or someone else,
Describe someone else with insulting words,
Discourage themselves or others with statements like “can’t be done” or “that’s just the way it is”,
Use seemingly benign statements like “She’ll never get out of that job” or “He’ll never get that thing working”, or “I’ll never…”
It’s not just about talking yourself into, out of, or around a hole. If you understand that we’re all connected; then you understand, when we use negative words and statements about someone else, we help shape a reality that affects us all.
An example of determination and positive self-talk
I’ve always been fascinated with machines; especially with the ones that make things move, like car engines, etc. When I was 12 years old I had the crazy idea that I wanted to build a jet engine. So I went to a school teacher hoping she could tell me how to do it. Her reaction was an interesting mix of couragements (Is that a word? No, but it was more fun to say than "Her reaction was an interesting mix of discouragement and encouragement). She said something about going to the library and reading up on how jet engines work. That way, someday when I grew up I might work on jet engines for real.
What did I do? I listened… partially. I read up on how jet engines work then gathered a metal can, a motor, a tiny fuel tank and some other parts from my radio controlled airplane collection. Within days; I'd cobbled together a crude, but functioning jet engine. And to this day I still remember the smell of the epoxy and duct tape that held it together.
My chunky little engine looked like something out of Frankenstein’s lab. And after the last moments of tweaking, bundled with intense tension and excitement; I flipped the switch, lit the flame and “whoooosh!”; my contraption came to life. It sounded something like a hair dryer with a blow torch in it (I don’t recommend it for your hair). But mostly it sounded, smelled and felt like the success of a positively stubborn spirit; one who understands the power of saying, something will be what I believe it will be.
The teacher’s words had power. They could have shut me down. Luckily my words and thoughts had more. And by the time I had that shaky little engine running, my words that declared I would do it prevailed.
I kept the strength
This determination went on throughout my childhood. There were so many projects where I declared “I’m gonna do this one way or another”. And after spending large amounts of time on them, far passing the point where most people would give up; 98% of the time I’d have accomplishment to show for it.
What I said I’d do, I did. And to this day discouragement has almost never taken hold. This ministry is a good example of that. I face constant technical glitches, hours of rebuilding material over disappearing files; and a slew of other constant, unusual challenges. And yet here it is. Almost every step of the way was one where I've declared; I'm going to make this happen. If I'd constantly said it wouldn't happen, you wouldn't be seeing any of my content.
The flip side
There is a darker side of this ability to speak things into reality. As a child, and in a previous part of my adulthood; the negative words I spoke about myself and others also often came true. Many times in my life I would tell myself I was worthless. At other times, regretfully, I’ve said some painfully discouraging words to others. And in my ignorance those words carried determination and driving force, just like those I’ve spoken out of positive determination.
I’d heard similar words about myself when I was younger. I was accomplished in technical artistry, like bringing trashed machines back to life. But at the same time, the negative words that flowed both into and out of me; they've brought me and others around me to some kind of emotional, mental and spiritual brick wall. And this is the power we all have within our mouths, our pens, our keyboards and our minds.
This power is so strong it can completely destroy positive, life changing, world changing thought. It can even take a life (There’s never been a single suicide or murder that was not at least influenced by words).
Back to the bright side of words
The power of our communication can lift spirits, minds and hearts. It can uphold and even reshape everything. That’s not just because people listen and are affected by words and thoughts. It’s also because, in God's attempt to nurture our own potential and teach us responsibility; He backs everything we say, positive or negative.
So when we announce that someone or something is going to fail, it’s much more likely they will. But on the flip side; when we raise a person or situation up with our language, thoughts or prayers; they will be lifted.
We can either behave like the teacher who almost kills the project, or the child who brings it to life. And what we practice with our mouths and writing tools, it largely defines our own souls and our own realities. Who, what and where you are now; it's often largely a direct result of words you’ve spoken. How you overcome obstacles can be a product of how you speak before you even try the hurdles.
It’s a lot like carrying a hammer around all day and night. Sometimes you might drive a nail and build something good. Sometimes you might use it to smash a window. The difference between that hammer and your words; it’s not that the hammer is more effective and the words are less. The difference is simply that we can easily and quickly see how effective the hammer is; while the results of our words are just as real, but more illusive.
The power of Christ
Many Christians often forget a few really important points:
We are literally part of the body of Christ.
We are created in God’s image.
Jesus told us that we would be able to accomplish astounding things, things most people don’t even know are possible (as long as they are not on the forbidden list). When Christ wanted to do things like calming a raging sea, he only had to speak the commands. For God to create everything we exist with, he too only had to speak those commands.
What this means is that we literally have the power to shape a situation with our tongue, our pens or any other tool used to communicate. It’s not just about thinking positive. It’s about actual, spiritual influence. It’s about the fact that we can speak things into life in almost (sort of) the same way God can.
God spoke and created. He said “let there be…” and there was. He did it so many times that we now have dirt to stand on, water to drink and air to breathe. And you and I were created in his image, so we can create with words as well.
This applies in spiritual battles, relationships, business deals and every other situation in life. While prayer is a big part of change; we also, literally have the power to shape an outcome just with our thoughts and words.
My final words (get it?)
Personally, controlling my own words is a work in progress. I'm not at all perfect at it, but I've seen clear data that shows me; every time I speak negatively, there is an outflow of negative impact in ways I'd not even imagined before studying this. When I speak positively, the opposite happens.
You may not be able to grow a mountain by saying "mountain arise!", but you can create an obstacle for someone that’s practically as big as that mountain. You may not be able to tear down a dam with your tongue, but you can cause a desolate heart to flood with love. Every word you use about your own present and future will become your present and future. It means this; sometimes when you need a change in your life, or when you want to help someone else with the same kind of change; all you need to do is speak it.
“…take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
- James 3:3-6 NIV
Is there more?
Well yeah! And in all my hard work in pushing content and building my documentary, I've built more I can share about this subject.
Content links mentioned above
The Bible - What is it and how do I Read? (article) - When I say it's the manual to life, I mean, it's the manual to life. I didn't just learn about the power of words by reading, I learned about many other important tools.
Effective Prayer (collection) - Our words to ourselves and to others is hugely important in shaping realities. So are our words to God.
Getting to God documentary preview - A package that entails years of study about God and the world, poised in hope to change hearts and minds.
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