Our Words Hold More Power Than We Realize

These two verses end a long commentary by Jesus in reaction to a comment made by the Pharisees. Jesus had cured a blind and deaf man who was also demon-possessed. The people who had witnessed this were, of course, astonished and wondered allowed among themselves if Jesus was the Messiah. The Pharisees, who already felt threatened by Jesus, responded by saying: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (verse 24)

Words. Words matter. All too often, though, we use words frivolously. We use them sometimes without thinking of their power. How many times do we use them in the form of biting or abusive humor at the expense of another’s reputation, or to make ourselves feel more important? How many times are we guilty of using our words out of self righteous anger? It is true; we should learn and practice more regularly the art of thinking carefully before we speak, for by our words we may be justified, or condemned.

If we develop the habits of using our words as honest and real expressions of love, support, praise and encouragement, we can lift one another up when we have fallen. As Christians, our words ought to be inspired by God. If they are, they will always be respectful of the infinite dignity of the other. We will speak only words of kindness, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. When our words are inspired by the Holy Spirit, they are always constructive, even when they are used to correct one another. When our words come from the well of our interior relationship with God, they will always be inspired by love; they will be used for the purpose of uniting us with others in mutual love, care, concern, and respect. We will never use our words to separate us from one another. Most of all, our words will honor God.

Sadly, there are those who use words in ugly ways, or for selfish purposes. Their words are birthed by things like jealousy, anger, and bitterness and they are all too often used to injure the other. Such words have no life in them. They are full of rancor, accusation, condemnation and division. They have no honor or respect in them. Words such as these destroy community, for there is no love in them. “A house divided cannot stand.” (verse 25) Jesus warns us here that those who pridefully speak words against the Holy Spirit, condemn themselves. “But I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by our words you will be condemned.”

Lord, we wish to be with you forever in your heavenly kingdom. Help us to be aware of the power of our words. Give us the grace of a self-disciplined tongue, so that we may speak always out of holy humility and love. Let our words be filled more and more with beauty, truth, and goodness. Help us to use our words as instruments of healing and forgiveness, love and kindness. In this we will be able to honor and to imitate your Word, Jesus, in our daily lives. We pray this in the power of you most holy name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.