Chaplain Peter Browning
Professor of Philosophy & Religion
Office: (417) 873-7231
Fax: (417) 873-7435


The Influence and Power of Words

By Jamie Alexander

It is uncommon that humans will go a single day without talking out loud or even speaking words to their self. Words and our daily thoughts can have great influence. To speak words we must use our tongue. Without it, we would only hear sound and we would not be able to understand our words. Have you ever tried holding your tongue and talking? It is almost impossible.
James 3:1-12

James is the half-brother of Jesus. He is writing to instruct Christians on their walk of life or “lifestyle”. He does a very good job of using images and symbolism. In just the 12 verses he uses 13 images for us to help understand its importance.

  1. Small things can have a LARGE impact
    • Large Horse: A large horse will have a small bit (reign) in its mouth, but will go wherever it is pulled.
    • Ship: A small rudder can turn a ship wherever the  captain choses, even with strong winds
    • Tongue: Produces grand speeches and words

    Another thing James wants us to understand is that:

  2. Words can Tear Down or Encourage. The tongue can bless and curse.
    • Tiny spark: can set a great forest on fire
    • Tongue: small part of your body can affect set the course of your life to destruction

There are so many examples in the bible that show just how powerful words are. The very first one that we are all familiar with is:

God: In the beginning God spoke the world into existence. In Genesis it says “In the beginning GOD SAID” Let there be light. This was one day of creation. GOD SAID, GOD SAID, GOD SAID. Multiply this and you get the 7 days of creation. (Genesis 1)

Jesus: Performed many miracles. Many of his miracles he simply spoke and a person was healed or something supernatural happened. Lazarus was lying dead for four days. When he finally arrived after the four days Jesus reassured his sisters Mary and Martha that he was going to be okay. He then went to the tomb where he had been buried and he spoke the words “Lazarus come out”. (John 4:43) Lazarus then came out.

Jesus: The healing of a lame man. A man had been lame for years. Jesus simply told him to “Get up! Pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly the man got up and walked. (John 5)

Now we have a general idea of just how important words are. We should recognize that our words may not have the power of the Lords but our words do have INFLUENCE. (Proverbs 18:21) says the tongue has power of death and life.

Words can be devastating not just to your soul but to others as well. So it is important that we are careful of the things we say and how we say them. We all know the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This is a great saying to have, but in reality, words can and do hurt.

(It deeply saddens my heart recently hearing about a 12 year old girl Florida girl that was cyber bullied. A fellow classmate typed negative words over Facebook. These words were so bad the girl couldn’t take it anymore and decided to end her life all because of NEGATIVE WORDS spoken to her from a classmate.)  

Now let’s take a look at the encouragement side.  Have you ever received an unexpected note from a person that said they were simply thinking about you? What about that a simple hello and smile from a stranger that instantly turned around what you thought was going to be a bad day? (Proverbs 16:24) Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
We need to assess the words we speak to each other in our daily life and here at Drury….

  1. Do you encourage your friends to be all that they can be?
  2. Do you call your family to tell them that you love and think of them?
  3. Do you give confidence to your class even when they are on the edge of failing?  
  4. Do you continue to speak kind words to your co-workers even when you can’t stand sharing an office space?
  5. And lastly…

  6. Do you bite your tongue before beginning to gossip? (Proverbs 16:28b) Gossip separates the best of friends.

If any of those questions applied to you and you answered “NO” to one or more of them, I would recommend that you take a self assessment. Not necessarily an assessment of the words that come out of your mouth, but your heart. Matthew 12:34 says, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. This says, who you are and what’s in your heart are revealed in the words that you use.

As you leave today I hope you encourage, build, and speak positive things to yourself and to those around you. And remember once we speak words we will never be able to get them back. Yes you can apologize and repent. But they are forever out there lingering. Matthew 12:36 says that, “on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”