08/09/2021 by Rev. Doug Walker 0 Comments
The Greatest Weapon
As seen in the HEARTbeat and Village Voice
The Greatest Weapon
World War I was called the “war to end all wars.” It was a terrible war and left terrible scars. Not many people are still alive who can remember the terrible things of the conflict. Then along came World War II. People who fought in that war can remember the battles, but even more so the war. And even those who did not go to war can still remember the words spoken in the newsreels at the movies, especially the speeches given by Adolf Hitler, even though we may not have understood the words. But of course, most adults can remember either in person or on newsreels the speech given by Franklin D. Roosevelt before congress, especially the seven most memorable words of the entire speech: “…a day that will live in infamy.”
Words seem to stick with us longer than actions, especially the hurtful words. They seem to leave wounds that never heal, or leave invisible, lasting scars. As an example, can you remember the words spoken to you by someone in high school that hurt you deeply? Most of us can. Physical scars eventually fade away, but the emotional scars created by harsh words seem to stick with us.
Words are powerful. They can do damage that will last a lifetime. But they can also build a person up to new heights. Take for example a teacher. A teacher has subject knowledge beyond the student, and through words builds the student up to a competent level determined by the teacher. The teacher, at all levels of education, is always wiser and more knowledgeable than the student, whether it be grade school or graduate school. A teacher can the greatest impact on a student, and that impact can be positive or negative.
In his letter to Christians who scattered after Stephen’s death, James said those in teaching positions would be held to a higher standard than normal Christians (if there is such a person). False teachings were being combatted by all the Apostles during the contacts with the early churches. James cautioned those in teaching positions to use the right words or the correct teachings of Jesus Christ. Why? Because the teacher can guide the growth of a person in the right way or sadly the wrong way.
We hear many words in our daily travels. We cannot control what others might say, but we can certainly control what words come from our lips. The origin of the spoken word is not the tongue; it is only a tool wielded by the heart. We must pause before we engage this tool and determine if the words we are about to use are ones of encouragement or ones of destruction. Both can have lasting effects.
Let’s use words of encouragement as we engage in conversation. Use your tongue for good instead of destruction. We can create beautiful friendships with kind and thoughtful words, friendships that can last for a lifetime.