Your words matter


In this article, we can observe a very important lesson from a biblical patriarch about the power of words.

In the case of Jacob, they were spoken words, but in our day of instant messages and social media, the same applies to our written words. Before reading a passage from the book of Genesis, let’s set the context. Jacob and his family have run away from Jacob’s father-in-law Laban. Jacob was afraid that Laban was going to cause him some type of harm. Please take out your Bible now and read Genesis 31:25-32.

As the story of Jacob continues we know that Rachel (who had stolen Laban’s idols) died giving birth to Benjamin. The words Jacob spoke concerning the one who took the idols came to pass. Jacob could have said to Laban, “Go ahead. Search away. No one here has your gods.” But instead he felt compelled to strengthen his words with an oath: “If anyone has your gods that person will die.” Were Jacob’s words merely prophetic? Perhaps Rachel heard his oath and then lived in fear that she would be found out. Maybe this constant fear and worry actually affected her health.

We learn from this reading the dangerous power of speech. The power of words is the power to bless or to curse. Jacob, of all people, understood the power of words. That is why he so eagerly sought after his father’s blessing. Understanding the power of the tongue — to bless or curse, to build or destroy — Jacob should have been more careful with his own words.

James, the brother of Messiah Jesus, tells us that with our tongues we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. Later, James states emphatically, “My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10).

Have you ever spoken harsh words to a spouse, to one of your children, or to a friend that in one way or another turns out to be prophetic? Did what you say about them come to pass? Have you ever spoken blessings over your spouse, one of your children, or to a friend that in one way or another turns out to be prophetic? Did the good things you say come to pass? Maybe it wasn’t prophecy. Maybe your words affected the person in such a way that they lived their life as if your words were true. Like Jacob, perhaps the things that you said, either in anger or in love, had the power to affect reality for the person you were speaking to or speaking about. What I’m suggesting is to speak only blessings about others and speak them often.

What we learn from Jacob is that our words are NOT just noise that floats through the air and fades away harmlessly. This is even truer concerning what is posted on the internet! Those words are stored out there in the ‘cloud’ forever! Our words are instruments of creation or destruction, depending on what we say.

Learn the lesson that Jacob had to learn when he declared the death of his beloved wife. Think and then think again before giving a harsh reply and freely, without hesitation, distribute blessings and praises.

Can you imagine what our world could be if the internet and our speech contained only good and uplifting words?

Frank Fenton is a life-long student of the Word of God. He attends the Church of the Messiah in Xenia where he shares teaching duties for the weekly Bible study class, as well as contributing to the congregational teaching.

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