Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Power of Words”
Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron. 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’” 15 And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.’” 17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.
James 3:1: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
There’s an old John Mayer song in which the chorus says, “My stupid mouth has gotten me in trouble.” When I was in high school, I used to think how true that was, because I would often regret something I had said frivolously. I wonder if Hananiah would have thought that to himself—“My stupid mouth has gotten me in trouble.” Unfortunately, because he spoke foolishly, and there were consequences—he died.
In the book of James, the apostle warns about taking lightly the role of a teacher. Teachers have a platform to speak and their words have power. Hananiah, though not a teacher per se, was a prophet who spoke to people, and thus taught people. But his message was false and he was judged for that. James says that teachers will be judged with greater strictness, because their words have power to lift up others or tear them down. That is a scary warning.
Words have power and the extent to which we have a platform to speak to others, our words have greater power. This is why we all need to be careful with our words. James says that words have the power to bless and also the power to curse (see James 3:9). Each time we speak, we should ask ourselves, Will these words bless or curse those who are listening? Will they build up or tear down? Especially for those in some position of power—whether as a leader, a teacher, or even a parent—ask yourself this: How will my words be received by those under me? Will they instruct and edify, or will they confuse and bring fear?
Though James says that not everyone should be teachers, a teacher is a noble calling. Teachers are necessary to build up others, especially within the church. This is why we should pray for our leaders, pastors, and teachers. We need to pray for God to use the words of those God has called to continue to build up His church. May God use our words and the words of our leaders to bring glory to Jesus and to bring blessing to others!
Prayer: Lord, may the words of our mouths be pleasing to You. So often we speak frivolously and flippantly without realizing how our words may affect others. May we be careful with our words, knowing that our words have the power to both bless and curse. May we see to use our words always to be a blessing to others, all for your glory. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Esther 1