Even if you aren’t a writer or communicator searching for the perfect word, you should care about your words. And more importantly, you should care about the way you use them in both your everyday conversations and online.
The Bible declares that humans were created in the image of God. One of the key ways we reflect God is that we are communicative beings. We use words. Christianity knows a speaking God. God is not obligated to speak, yet He does. We know of God only because He has chosen to speak. God is so invested in His image bearers that He speaks to us.
The storyline of Scripture – God’s revealed Word to us – is a narrative of God speaking. Think of how often the Old Testament contains the phrase “And the Word of the Lord came to ….” The prophets were always speaking because they first heard God speaking. In the New Testament, the coming of Jesus is framed by John as “the Word made flesh.” God doesn’t just speak words. In Christ, we are told He is the Word. Jesus is the living and breathing, flesh and blood communication of God.
We have a speaking God, which means that those who bear His image also are speakers. Forming words in sentences is so woven into the human experience that we lament when people lose the ability to communicate. Words matter so much to God that the restoration of communication is seen in Scripture as a sign of Jesus’ new kingdom activity. Jesus came in part to restore our ability to communicate.
But as we know, not all words that humans create reflect God’s own beautiful words. The human race’s descent into darkness began with the serpent and his own twisted misrepresentations of God’s instruction to His image bearers. So, after humanity’s fall into sin, words can now be used to either injure or inspire. In a fallen world, we often don’t even understand the weight of the words we use or type into our phone.
We read in Proverbs 18: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit” (v. 21). The Bible teaches us that words can create or destroy. They can uplift or condemn. They can reflect the Word by which God has spoken or they can echo the whispers of the serpent.
God’s people should heed what God is speaking to us about how we speak. We live in a world with a vast and seemingly unlimited economy of words. Today we have more ways to communicate than any time in human history. Stewarding this responsibility, controlling our communication – especially in the free and easy way we can publish – may seem like an exceedingly impossible task.
We should remember one thing: Those destructive half-truths in the garden were not the final word. Jesus, God’s final Word, has spoken a word over those who have turned to Him in faith. He declares His Word that we are justified and transformed. Jesus has conquered that unruly, death-dealing beast and given us God’s Holy Spirit to tame our tongues, our thumbs and our keyboards.
Adapted from Using Online Conversations for Good with Dan Darling. Join the conversation to contemplate how Christians can engage the digital world with words that uplift and inspire by starting the course today!
Published July 6, 2022