Recently, I have noticed an overall increase in death by words. These deaths are occurring daily in our homes, schools, churches, social activities, and political environments. The number of deaths is threatening the existence of our country. Words have long-term effects, and in certain situations, the power of words is like a fastball pitch thrown at a speed of 90 miles per hour.
Several years ago, the federal law was amended (Rosa’s Law) to change the reference of “mentally retarded” to “intellectual disability.” The ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, legally defines a person with a limiting physical or mental life activity as “disabled.” The effect of this change has wide-spread legal implications concerning discrimination. But, the emotionally positive effect of this difference is positively sweeping.
Have you ever called someone retarded, or “retard,” and had those who heard you, begin to laugh at that person? Imagine the impact on the person’s emotional self-worth and self-esteem. Your words call out this person in a negative light that unleashes the same power as a loaded gun.
I had a similar childhood experience. For years, I painfully endured shame brought about by the regular reference to my skin color. Even worse, a member of my immediate family was the dispenser of this word. This shame did not go away overnight; it took several years of counseling to overcome."
Words can cripple, destroy, and limit a person even more than a disability. In fact, they may trigger a negative decision that leads to death. And what about you and me, as believers, who forget about the damage caused by such a small part of our body, the tongue.
The tongue of mankind is the most uncontrollable part of the body. It is described as a “world of iniquity” capable of defiling our physical bodies, minds, and emotions.
Figuratively speaking, it is a sharp knife that can cut, prick, or stick.
We praise and worship the Lord with our words, yet we curse our family members, children, employers, pastors, political representatives, and the list goes on. Our spiritual example in the use of our words and our tongues, to those not in the faith, is a conundrum.
What is so amazing is that God gave His creation the ability to have dominion over the animal kingdom, yet we struggle with controlling our tongues.
I have heard it asked, "So why should I change? You act just like me!” That is an indictment to avoid like the plague. Changing what comes out of the fountain of my mouth means surrendering everything to the Lord. (James 3:1-12) There are no new ways or rules to follow to do this; you just reach into your spirit and pull out the fruit of love. When you eat this fruit, you receive majestic grace, filled with power to bring hope and encouragement.
Remember, you own the words that come from your mouth. With words, you can elevate life, or encourage death. Which will be your legacy?