Dr. Randy Carlson
What people say to you can make you feel better or worse. Their words can be clear or confusing. Words matter. In fact, some of the most important words are the first words and the last words we ever speak, and then we have millions of them in between.
Ninety-five percent of parents remember their child’s first words. Our children’s first words tend to be very specific kinds of things, either objects they like or things they want. Then there are last words. You know, these first words are very specific. They are repeating what they’ve heard and things that we want in life. But it’s interesting the last words of many people aren’t about an object, but about relationships.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, is reported to have been in the garden, dying, and he said to his wife, “You are wonderful.” Jesus on the cross said, “It is finished.” And Jesus’ last words to His disciples after He came back to life, but before He returned to Heaven, said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NIV).
There are all sorts of words we could look at to select as our one word for 2020. As we enter into this brand, new year — in a brand-new decade — I want you to think about the power of choosing one word or a small phrase that can become your mission statement for these next 12 months.
It’s important to make sure we have a biblical understanding when we talk about words. So, let look at Scripture to better understand God’s intention for His Word and our own words.
- Words are needed to give guidance in our lives. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT). Driving would be extremely dangerous if there weren’t signs with words on them: Yield. Turn left. Don’t pass. God’s Word gives direction.
- The words of the wise should spur us on. This is evident in the first part of Ecclesiastes 12:11, “The words of the wise are like prodding goads …” (AMPC). The words of the wise people we have around us prod us to move.
- Words are like well-driven nails. The second part of Ecclesiastes 12:11 says, “The words of the wise … like nails, are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd” (AMPC). Words create conviction based on truth, and the words that we use, the words that we pick to express to people what we believe and why we believe them, should be like well driven nails. They shouldn’t change every day. You drive a nail in with the intention that it won’t come out. It’s there to hold firmly.
- Words outlive us. Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will by no means pass away” (KJV).
When my mother was a young girl, she had a little book and she had people write in it. And my mother would often comment about the words that her dad, my grandfather wrote. I never met him. He’s been gone for many years, but I still remember the words he shared with her – they came from Proverbs 22:1. He wrote:
“Dear Dorothy, remember, a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches and to have favor more than silver and gold.”
Those words impacted my mother in such a way that her life was driven to make sure we maintain a good name, that we honor God, and we honor each other. My grandfather’s words have passed from one generation to the next.
God’s words will never perish. Our words will fade over the years, but we do impact the next generation. Things that we say to our children and to our grandchildren will be remembered.
It’s vital that we carefully choose our words. God is serious about the words that we use.
I’ll leave you with this verse from Psalm 19:14, often recited in prayer or songs. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight” (NKJV).
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