Words Like Atom Bombs

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. – Pearl Strachan

The words we speak are powerful things. Words can tear down or they can build up. They can bring death or they can bring life.

This past week I did not use my words very well. In an argument with someone I love dearly I became defensive and emotional, and used my words to pierce and wound.

I’m sure you too have stories about the power of words – how the words someone spoke to you impacted your life. Perhaps they were words of encouragement that brought confidence and peace and joy. Or maybe they were words that brought pain and hurt and sadness. Perhaps those words are still lodged in your heart today…

Now, whether you consider yourself a Christ-follower or not, the Bible is full of reminders of how supremely useful, and how incomparably potent words can be. The scriptures call us to use our words wisely and well – to bring healing and forgiveness and wholeness and freedom. Here are just a few examples:

  • Ecclesiastes 6:11 says that when used sparsely – succinctly – words carry great meaning.
  • Psalm 119:130 says that words can actually give light. Words can give understanding to those who don’t yet understand.
  • Proverbs 12:18 says that although reckless words pierce like a sword, words from the tongue of the wise can actually bring healing.
  • Proverbs 17:27 says that when used with restraint, words prove you’re a person of knowledge.
  • Proverbs 16:24 says that pleasant words are like a honeycomb - sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
  • Ecclesiastes 10:12 says that although a fool is consumed by his own lips, the words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious.
  • Deuteronomy 32:2 says words can actually descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

These are the kinds of words the scriptures call us to speak.

Humble words. Healing words. Wise words. Gentle words. Grace-filled words.

Now I wonder, are these the types of words you’re known for speaking?

If your closest friends or the family members who actually live underneath the same roof as you were polled anonymously about this, would they say that in the course of normal, everyday life, you can be counted on to speak words of encouragement and grace?

Let’s take today for example. Think about the very last thing you said before you started reading this blog.

  • Who you were talking to?
  • Do you remember what you said?
  • Were the words you spoke life-giving and inspiring and grace-filled?
  • Or were they… well, the opposite?

I find it interesting that for some reason God has allowed such power to inhabit our words? Astounding power in fact.

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And so, when the words I speak are divisive and mean, then I must look deep into my heart to see where those words have come from.

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19 Comments on “Words Like Atom Bombs

  1. How true Tom. My grandmother used to say words are one’s greatest asset, and one’s most powerful weapon, so use them wisely.

  2. I’ve been reminded recently of the power of my words (especially when publicly speaking or writing as people take what is said from “up front” quite seriously). I share about it in “That thing you said” (http://wp.me/p1Ut5W-cka). Thanks for the encouragment to make every effort to control my tongue whether publicly or not!

  3. In case i say too much, let me say “yes” to your blog!

  4. Excellent post. I often refer to the saying “thoughtless words leave lasting wounds”. You will not believe how many anorexics and addicts base their identity on destructive words that were said to them at some stage in their lives. We truly do often under estimate the efffects of whatt we say in the heat of things. Thanks Tom for the insight.

  5. Reblogged this on Creations and Inspirations and commented:
    Written or spoken, the infused intention of words can build masterfully or destroy mightily. You can actually observe it fulfill its purpose on a persons countenance, for better or worse. Wise, loving, kind words bring a lift the the chin, a sparkle in an eye, rising in posture, a smile on a face. Contemptuous, fear filled, angry, heartless words have the exact opposite effect…
    This is a terrific post by Tom Basson that expounds further on the matter. A worthy read…

  6. James has such great thoughts on the power of the tongue as well. It’s something we don’t think nearly enough about!

  7. It is somewhat incredible that such a small part of our body, the tongue, can bring about both amazing good and bad. It is often so much easier to use it as a tool to tear down, rather than as a tool to build up. Our words are perhaps the most powerful and shaping aspect of humanity. James warns against the power of the tongue and encourages all of us to be slow to speak…it can be so much easier to talk in the heat of the moment but can be so much more benecifal to step back and pause before speaking.

    Tom- I really like the questions you raise towards the end of the post. It is so important for us to think about what we say before we say it. Thank you for the reminder on all the verses…God gives us guidence for something that is clearly a potential issue.

    Thanks for a great post!

  8. Thanks, Tom. Such a good reminder. By the way, did you see the clown face in the top of the billowing bomb photo you used? Pretty good analogy – sometimes we think we are being funny, but our “bomb” of unthoughtful words really can hurt someone.

  9. Pingback: 4 Things You Can Never Recover « tom.basson

  10. Pingback: There’s no Undo-button on Life « open spaces

  11. “Words like Atom Bombs” was taped to my son’s bedroom door until he went away to college, now it’s packed in a box somewhere. In my heart, I believe he recited and absorbed this quiet mantra to begin each day, and made him the incredible young man that he is today.

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