Monday, November 19, 2012

Sharpening the Sword

 Reflex.  Action.  Damage.  It occurred in that order, within mere seconds and the effects were immediate.  A perceived injustice, a blinding flash of steel clad words honed to sharpness in tone, a wounded heart gaping as shock benumbed perception. 

The recipient; a six-year old boy.  His crime; disobedience in a correctable and minor issue.  The blade was mine.  It was the sword of my words.  Smoothly, effortlessly they slid from the sheath.  My anger that day sharpened their edge, my impatience brought them to bear with velocity.  Repeatedly this child had been instructed not to touch the chore chart, not to erase other children's accomplishments.  Family laws were purposefully violated.  Punishment was eminent.  My anger was just.  But in the end, rather than learning correction, a child learned fear.  Where instruction should have been strengthened, character was weakened.  This blade cuts both ways, the user often a victim of the same collateral damages. 

Continually we sharpen and hone the words that shape our lives through our attitudes and perceptions.  Yet continually we ignore this same very basic, very critical truth.  Our words shape our lives.  Not our jobs, not our relatives, not our circumstances, not our children's behavior, but our words.  We are created spirit beings made in the image of the One who created us and He brings forth realities through His spoken word.  We are created with the exact same capacity and yet most of us fail to walk this out on a day-to-day basis.  Why do we stumble so?

The third chapter of the book of James focuses intently on the power of the tongue/spoken word.  In it we read the tongue is wild and unruly, that "no man can tame" it.  No one in their own strength can fully tame, fully control, or direct the tongue and the language proceeding from it.   In one moment we're praising the Lord with it and the next we're speaking ill of people who are made in His image (James 3:9).  Our words are sharp and can be deadly, dealing great damage, even destroying lives.  James also states that like a spark in dry forest, setting the whole ablaze, this tiny member called the tongue sets the whole course of our lives on fire.  In reading these verses, one begins to despair of their own strength in controlling this most unruled of members, this most hell-bent of body organs. 

But that is the point.  No follower of Christ should ever be considering the notion that they can walk through this life without daily divine intervention - without continual supernatural empowerment.  These words of ours proceed from this tongue out of the overflow of what is fed into our minds and hearts through our eyes and ears.  "Garbage in...." is not modern slang, but a principled truth revealed thousands of years ago by the Father in His word.  This is why Hebrews calls attention to the power of God's spoken word.

"For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power making it active, operative, energizing, and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and the immortal spirit, and of joints and marrow of the deepest parts of our nature, exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12 AMP

The writer isn't referencing some static, dead book of scriptures - the Word of God is infinitely beyond this.  It is even today an active, alive, and energetic entity performing what it was sent to do.  In John, the first chapter, we read that the Word became flesh.  We need to get it out of our heads that God's word is ink on a page and realize it is alive and upholding everything around us, even our very lives.  In Matthew 5:18, Jesus stated that this Word will outlast even the known earth and heavens.  It is alive, it is eternal, it is powerful, it is present here as it was when it was spoken  It will perform its speaker's intent and when we echo this Word, we are speaking that same intent into our own lives.

Our words, likewise, have eternal ramifications - as we are endowed, in the image of our Father, with this same power.  When His Word proceeds from our mouths, life is brought forth, hearts are restored, people are met in their lack and their lack is overwhelmed by His provision and love.  The surgical work listed above occurs and healing commences, whether we speak into our own lives or the lives of others.

When our words flow from the abundance of fear, frustration, or anger, the sword cuts viciously, wounding ourselves and others without prudence, creating further damage in accordance with Hell's designs, slicing at any target unfortunate to have crossed paths with them.  In our strength and limitation, we bring destruction, in His, we bring life.  We will all continue to sharpen the sword of our words.  How we use it and the existence we choose to possess, is up to us.

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences."
Proverbs 18:21


  1. Josh, VERY WELL "worded!" (pun intended) This is very true and very timely as I too have a six year old son with a tender heart, to whom I speak very harshly sometimes (often unintentionally).

    Thanks for the TRUTH!

  2. Amen, cousin. In all of our most intimate relationships, words are either the best building blocks or the TNT that brings everything down. Why is it so easy to blow up at our beautiful, naive and trusting children? I don't know, but I know God can help us be better, and thanks to Him that He doesn't talk to US like that. Thanks for your words!