Friday, March 21, 2014

The Power of Words

Over 2,000 years ago, the wisest man in history penned this profound truth, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21. 

Have we ever stopped to think about what this means? What we say can effectively make or break someone and potentially affect them the rest of their life.

Once spoken, a word can never be taken back but will make its mark in the heart of the hearer. What are we communicating to those in our circle of influence? Are we tearing them down by sarcastic comments or negative feedback, or are we building up their positive traits by using encouraging words?

Consider the results of the following experiment. A group of students were given a test and told their scores would determine whether they were likely to succeed in their academic endeavors or whether they would be inferior. The test results were shared with the students, and school continued as usual. 

A year later, a follow up test was given with interesting results. The students who had been among those told they would likely succeed scored an average of 10-30% higher than the rest of the group. 

Even more interesting was the fact that none of the original test scores had been used to determine who belonged in the “smart” group and who fell into the average or below group. All of the student’s names had been placed in a hat and drawn out to be randomly placed in one group or the other. 

What are the odds that all of the students involved in the testing produced scores that placed them in the group predicted? 

The answer is simple.

The “superior” group was treated by teachers and students alike as though they were indeed superior. They rose to their perceived potential even though they may have initially been average students. Those higher than average students now found themselves in the average or below average category. Lack of affirmation and an absence of belief in their potential reflected in their scores.

What messages are we giving on a daily basis through our communication with those within our sphere of influence, especially to our spouses and children? Do they know that we believe in them and that we can see past their mistakes to their potential? Are we affirming them in the positive things we see in them? It's easy to let right behavior pass by without comment, but the moment a mistake is made what do our loved ones hear?

Does this sound familiar? 
“What’s wrong with you? Why can't you ever do anything right? 
You're so stupid! At this rate you're never going to amount to anything.”

Ouch! The door is now open for negative thoughts to be formulated in the mind of the receiver. 
“Maybe I will never get it right. I thought I was doing better. I thought I was improving but nobody seems to notice. I'm just stupid. If I'm never going to amount to anything, why try? I don't care anymore. Why should I? If everyone thinks I'm a failure, I guess that's what I must be. I'm not good for anything. I might as well give up.” 

The speaker of such harsh words never stops to think of the damage they have inflicted. The wound begins to heal; but before it does, it is cut again by more sharp words. An emotional scar eventually forms, limiting the receiver's ability to even hope for a bright
and promising future full of potential.

We may be tempted to think that people don't need encouragement until they are consistent in doing right. I challenge us all, however, to consider how Jesus treats us unworthy, sinful, rotten mortals who nailed Him to the cross and who have made many mistakes. He does not treat us according to what we deserve. Instead, He pursues us with His love until He has won us, offering forgiveness and a new start. He sees our potential; and in His eyes, we are of inestimable value. He encourages us with the promises of His Word and gives us power to live a changed life. He freely expresses the worth He sees in us and His belief that we can rise to our full potential in Him. How beautiful! How 

Love is the greatest stimulation for positive change. The following quote supports this important concept: 
“Let each give love rather than exact it. Cultivate that which is noblest in yourselves, and be quick to recognize the good qualities in each other. The consciousness of being appreciated is a wonderful stimulus and satisfaction. Sympathy and respect encourage the striving after excellence, and love itself increases as it stimulates to nobler aims.” Ministry of Healing, pg. 361

Countless marriages and families have been destroyed because of words that were spoken in the home. We will not become another statistic if we take hold of His strength and allow Him to control our thoughts and words that they may be a “savor of life unto life”! Truly, “death and life are in the power of the tongue."


-- If correction is necessary, follow with positive words of encouragement
-- Look for and express appreciation often for the good you see in others.
-- Inspire others by making known their potential and expressing your belief in them.
-- Pray for God's help to be a catalyst for positive change by speaking words of life! 

                                                                                                                   Written by: Allison Fowler

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