What are you saying?
Updated: Jan 7
“Late that day he said to them, ‘Let’s go across to the other side.’ They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, ‘Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?’
Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Settle down!’ The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?’
They were in absolute awe, staggered. ‘Who is this, anyway?’ they asked. ‘Wind and sea at his beck and call!’” Mark 4:35-41
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” Proverbs 18:21
At some point, you’ve probably heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” When you heard this, like me, you probably disagreed with the saying. Words do hurt, and they have hurt all of us. Things people say about us can shape who we are, and what we believe about ourselves in both good ways and bad ways. I talk about speaking over your identity here, but today I want to focus on being cautious when speaking to our circumstances.
I still remember when I was young, a girl from the neighborhood told me my eyebrows looked like caterpillars. She said this one time but it shaped the way I thought about my eyebrows for a really long time. Whenever I looked in the mirror I would see my caterpillar eyebrows and hope they would just crawl off. What she didn’t know was that thicker brows are actually in right now, so I was just really fashion forward at the time.
In college, I would spend so much time fixing my eyebrows, my roommates asked me about it. We had this funny moment where we all spilled the beans on these crazy little details about ourselves that made us insecure, and the same thing was true of all of our insecurities. They didn’t exist until someone told us about them. At some point, someone spoke something over us, and it stuck. In this case, someone’s words had killed our confidence in some way. When someone either tells us, “you can do it, I believe in you,” or, “I don’t think that’s your thing…” it impacts us.
The power of words and language has always been something I’m fascinated by because of my love for reading and writing. I genuinely love words. I think they're so important, and I love that God thinks so too. Throughout scripture, it’s clear that words are of huge importance to God. God even chose to use the Bible as His primary way to speak to us, and He spoke the world into existence.
In my last message, I shared about how I see Christians often live lives of hopelessness and started to get into the idea that what we say can shape what happens. If we say a situation might never get better, we are declaring that as a truth, and potentially impacting the outcome.
This isn’t a new idea. In the Bible, we call it prophecy. In modern culture, we call it the law of attraction.
When Jesus was faced with the storm in the boat with the disciples, in order to calm the storm he spoke to it. He said aloud what He wanted to become a physical reality before it was. We’re told in scripture that just to speak His name is praise. We’re encouraged to speak about our faith, to go and tell people about the gospel. We’re told to speak up for people who don’t have a voice, and we’re cautioned to not be careless with our words but instead to think before we speak. We’re told to speak in faith, and we see God speak to His people throughout scripture.
Often, He calls them something before they actually become what He calls them.
The example set for us is an important one, and one that’s easily forgotten. We’re told to be slow to speak, and yet we live in a culture where we can quickly speak to a big group of people from the comfort of our homes without thinking too much about it and clicking “share” or “post” or “send.” I think we know our words have power, but I think sometimes we forget how powerful they are because we see others using their words flippantly and we adopt the same posture. Can you hear your parents in the background saying, just because other people are doing it, doesn’t mean you should...
I want to let you know it’s actually a good thing to sit on your words for a while. It’s smart, wise and biblical to let the Spirit stir your heart into speaking instead of letting your emotions or your circumstances dictate your words.
It’s ok to be thoughtful and slow to speak so that when you choose to speak, you’re speaking words filled with the breath of God instead of words that come from us.
In the process of moving multiple times, I’ve often been open about my struggle of making and finding friends. One dead giveaway to me about who I want to be friends with, is what they say when I’m around them. If they’re quick to gossip about someone to me, I know they’ll be gossiping about me to the next person. If they’re saying discouraging, negative, things, I just got a look into the condition of their heart. The way they talk about things, shows me who they are more and faster than anything else. Do they just talk about themselves? Did they say one thing, but do another? Words are revealing, and I want to be careful about the story I’m telling with mine.
When I look at the passage where Jesus calms the storm, I think about how powerful His words were. He was staring at the circumstance, and told it to become what He wanted. The disciples were panicked because all they could see was the circumstance. They didn’t see beyond it, or think to speak to it. Jesus spoke to the storm to show His authority, but I also think it’s a great example for us.
Let’s take a closer look at our storms, and let’s think and pray and then speak the will of God over them.
This concept might feel weird to you, and I get it because to be honest a lot of “church-y” things are still weird to me. If that’s the case, I think the best place to start is to start by speaking scripture. When I studied scripture engagement practices in college, speaking scripture was one of them.
There’s something really powerful that happens when we speak the Word of God out loud.
One of my professors was so convinced of this, he advised me to simply read the Bible out loud when I was around people who didn’t believe in God because He was so convinced hearing the Word of God would change their lives. Whenever I remember that conversation with my professor, I hope I have the same conviction that the Word of God is so powerful, and we have access to use it as a tool when facing different circumstances in our lives.
Our words can either build people up, or tear people down, and I hope to stick to doing the first. I also hope that my words do more than just encourage people, but actually serve a purpose in building the kingdom. The power in words is the Holy Spirit speaking through us, and using our words to minister to the world around us. Maybe it means paraphrasing or memorizing scripture, or maybe it means speaking in a way that reflects the Father’s heart.
Whatever it looks like, we should want our words to be glorifying to God, not just a reflection of a circumstance or a feeling.
Let’s all take a closer look at the words we’ve been using and speaking, the circumstances that might be shaping them, and be prayerful when we use the tool our words can be. Start by speaking scripture over yourself, the people you interact with, and your circumstances. I have a feeling you’ll be pretty pleased with the results.
-Are you thoughtful about your words? Journal about why or why not.
-How can use your words as an impactful tool in the Kingdom? Journal about what that would look like for your everyday life.
-How often do you speak scripture to yourself of others? Journal a scripture verse, phrase, or concept you want to speak over your circumstances this week.
Hey God, thank you for your Word and for choosing to give us the gift of words. We pray we would have a deeper conviction in the power of words and that we would use that power guided by your Holy Spirit. Help our words to come from you, and speak through us in our families, workplaces, and communities this week. Help us to not be flippant with our words, but to be faithful in speaking what is of you and ultimately for your glory. Help our words to come into alignment with your kingdom purpose. We love you! Amen https://www.mrsmollywilcox.com/post/who-tells-you-who-you-are