If  we  priced and valued words as we do commodities,
on the basis of supply and demand, then words would be dirt cheap these days.  There are more words available in the cultural
marketplace than ever before: round the clock television news and talk radio,
stacks and stacks of newspapers and magazines, countless web sites and endless
email.  Words are plentiful and common.  They’re like store brand canned goods and
imitation jewelry; it’s hard to find quality words that satisfy our taste for
truth and lovely words that meet our need for beauty.  Words that matter are hard to find and
We live in the age of hype and spin, sound byte and take
away lines.  Words get used to conceal
more than to reveal, to obscure rather than to clarify, and to coerce more than
to persuade.  Straight talk and plain
speech are in short supply.
So, it’s easy to conclude that words don’t matter very
much—to think that what we say evaporates as soon as we’ve said it.  Christianity, drawing from its deep roots in
Judaism, offers a very different view: words have great creative or destructive
Words are the origin of everything: “In the beginning was
the Word,” the Gospel of John claims, which means, in part, that there are no
beginnings without words.  God made the
world with words: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was
light.”   Over and over again in Genesis
1, that’s what we hear: “God said, and there was.  God said, and there was.”  The word is the source.  Words create, make things happen, and set
things in motion:  “I pronounce you to be
husband and wife.”  “I baptize you in the
name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 
“I love you.”  “I believe in
you.”  “I forgive you.”  “I’m here for you.”  “I understand.”   Other words have destructive power: “We find
the defendant guilty as charged.” 
“Crucify him.”  “I want a
divorce.”  “I can’t trust you any more.”   “I’m sorry; we did all we could.” 
Because words have power, they matter greatly, and we are
called to a wise stewardship of them. 
We use them to lift our voices in praise to God, and to lift
one another up with encouragement.  We
use our words to affirm and heal, not to dishearten and discourage.  We use our words to bless.  Poet Stanley Kunitz, once said that a
blessing is “like rapture breaking through on the mind.” The right words from the
right person at the right time can impart joy and peace, even in times of
upheaval and seasons of struggle.
written about this before, but it was such a pivotal experience for me, I’ll
mention it again.  A long time ago now, I
got in hot water because of an unpopular position I took on the issue of race.  I was getting some crank calls with
thinly-veiled threats about what the callers intended to do about the trouble-making
preacher who had moved into town.  I’d
like to say that I was courageous enough that none of it bothered me, but I was
scared almost to death.  Late one night,
when I couldn’t sleep, the phone rang, and I just knew that, on the other end
of the phone, would be still another angry voice.  Instead, it was the voice of my friend, Mack
Charles Jones, and all he said was, “Hey man, I’m here.”  As far as I am concerned, Mack spoke directly
for God that night.  He blessed me.  To this day, when I am anxious and worried, I
hear God say to me, in Mack’s voice, “Hey man, I’m here.”  They’re just words, but, sometimes, words are
almost everything.