Is there such a thing as a meaningless word? Words like “emergency” or “stop” or “winner” demand much more attention than words like “asparagus” or “follicle.” But the word “asparagus” could answer the question, “Which of the items on this plate is laced with rat poison?” That gives it much more meaning. There is no such thing as a meaningless word.
Every word can, and does, have weight and power and effect. Words make a difference. Words do something.
From life experience and personal morals, you probably understand that wrong words hurt others. Sarcasm. Harsh criticism. Gossip. Angry arguing. The wrong words don’t just hurt others, however, they hurt us. We are polluted by our own pollution and poisoned by our own poison.
Would you believe that God makes sure of it? Psalm 64:3-8 talks about people who “aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot … at the innocent … they say, ‘Who will see it?’ But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin.” So, what’s the solution? A big piece of duct tape over my mouth and on it is written, “Dangerous. Speak at your own risk”? No. The way to replace your wrong words with the right words is to believe in God’s words of grace that forgive your sins and equip you to speak with a heart that has been changed by Jesus.
Jesus said “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34). To change how you speak, Jesus doesn’t give you speech lessons, he changes your heart. He fills it with his grace and righteousness and words of love.
Here’s how he did that. 1 Peter 2:23,24 talks about the enemies of Jesus torturing and crucifying him: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”
Healed. You don’t have the power to take your words back. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have the power on your own to change how you speak. “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). But Jesus has the power to heal you. And these words say that he already has. You’re not sick with sin. You’re not guilty with shame. You are completely forgiven, even if the person you hurt with your words doesn’t think so. God thinks so.
Because Jesus has forgiven your sin and changed your heart, you already know God’s language. Like Texans can detect a Wisconsin accent that gives away a person’s identity, people will be able to tell that your identity is found in Jesus, that you love him and his words. And your tongue will be an instrument of good in a world with too much sin and evil. There are no meaningless words. Your words have power, and with a heart that is filled by the very words of God himself, your right and righteous words are going to change hearts. Like Jesus has changed yours.