Words have power!

If you don’t think that’s true, try being hit in the face by a thesaurus.

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In the previous post in this series on different aspects of characteri took a look at the power and importance of living out your words. If there is no action, the words tend towards meaningless and ineffectual. i spoke about the phrase: “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.”

In terms of character definition, i think action is of vital importance. A lot of character stands and falls on what you do.

But that does not mean for a second that words are not important.

“In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.” – Plutarch

i think it goes even deeper than that though.

Who you speak to can speak volumes about your character. Jesus was an incredible example of this as He constantly reached out to people in society who were considered “less than” by everyone else. So from women and children to the Samaritans (who were traditional enemies of the jews) to outsiders such as lepers, drunks and prostitutes, even simply His choosing to engage with them was like a deafening roar of contradiction to the hypocracy and legalism the people were used to, all too often, from the religious leaders of the day.

How you speak can at times be so much powerful than the words being spoken as the attitude behind and delivery of the words will often communicate what is truly at work in the person speaking them. A disingenuous apology, a reluctant promise or a hesitant “I love you” all give fairly obvious testimony to that.

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What you speak is pretty self explanatory. The words we speak have extreme power both ways – to lift up or to break down. Words can really transform people in the best of ways, helping them believe in themselves, spurring them on to greatness or creativity, and challenging them to live life more fully to the full. But they can also distressingly mangle and break down and bruise and wound and cause self-doubt and fear and worse. The words we speak to people can be a strong definer of the character we possess. And as effective as a well placed apology can be, words can be forgiven, but they can not be easily forgotten. Once spoken, it is impossible to take words back.

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Proverbs 18 sums it up well: 

21 The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. 

What fruit is your tongue contributing to?

[To return to the start of this Character series, click here]

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