Weigh Your Words
There are theories that have been floating around that tell us that men tend to speak an average of 10,000 words per day and women tend to speak upwards of 25,000 words per day. Each day, conversation is held over the phone, in person, while riding the bus or during breaks at work, where ever we are — we even use words when we speak to ourselves or in prayer to God. Whatever the case may be, words are an integral part of everyone’s life. Communication is the key to surviving the world and the lack of it (as we see with the divorce rate) is the reason why so many argue and do not get along.
In 2012, Eddie Murphy starred in a movie A Thousand Words, where he plays a character named Jack McCall. In the movie, Jack is a fast-talking book agent that lies and manipulates to get his way. He uses words to twist his way through the realms of the world to sign book deals and in his everyday encounters with the world around him. At the beginning, McCall has the opportunity to get a book deal from a New Age self-help guru named Dr. Sinja (played by actor Cliff Curtis), the guru sees through his deceit and agrees to the deal, only to later deliver a five-page book. That night, a Bodhi tree magically appears in his backyard, with a thousand leaves. Dr. Sinja goes to Jack's house and they both discover that for every word that Jack says, a leaf will fall off of the tree. When the tree runs out of leaves, the tree will die, along with Jack. In time, he finds that even written words count towards his limit; plus anything that happens to the tree will also affect Jack. Throughout the movie McCall must weigh his words and come to use them sparingly for at anytime it may be his last words he speaks. Of course, critics did not like the movie but for me it was powerful and thought provoking.
It got me to thinking about the words that come out of my mouth. It got me to thinking that I really need to take into account and weigh my words with every interaction and every conversation with everyone I come into contact with. How many times have I been in traffic and swore at someone who cut me off and the fact of the matter is they can’t even hear me and could care less that I got angry with them. I swore and lost my temper and the only person it affected was me and the only one that heard it was God! And, when I swore at that person I was actually swearing at God for everyone has the life force of God within them.
How many times have I back-talked my parents or spoken unkind things to another? How many times have I used vulgar words when playing my Playstation and screamed at the top of my lungs at the TV and then the next minute confessed to be a Christian?
I often say that I am a pretty good man, but I really am not good in any way. I fall short of being a good man every single day. I really think about the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Matthew and it gets me to evaluate the words that I speak. In the following passage he is speaking to the Pharisees but really he is speaking to all of us.
… How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
What a powerful bit of words! I know that I have said a lot of ignorant things in my life. I know that I have used my tongue plenty of times as a weapon to hurt people and to cut people down — so the question is: How can I live up to Jesus who spoke truth with every breath he had on earth? How can I love up to the God who died for me on the cross and speak truth to me and to everyone every single day?
The answer is that I can’t. But through grace He allows us time to change. By grace He allows us to become the individuals we need to be. Yet another bit of scripture that comes to mind is from the Book of James chapter 3. James tells us that we should not become people that lead others if we cannot use our words in holiness. He tells us we should weigh our words and that every word that we speak it can either turn the hearts of men and ourselves to the good or to the evil
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing…
This passage sums up everything that I have written here to you all. We need to use our words and weigh them against the truth of Jesus Christ. We need to use our words for love, goodness and joy. When we admonish the people around us, we need to do it in the love of Christ and if we cannot love the person we speak to, we should hold our tongues and say nothing. We should not talk about other people behind their backs; we should not judge people and we should not curse people with our words. We need to use our words as Jack McCall did in the movie. The final three words he spoke, the words he decided he would give up his life for were for his father that had left him and his mother and he died. He had held a grudge against him and used that to fuel his selfishness. Throughout the movie he tried to feed the poor or help a church group by donations, but none of those actions stopped the tree from losing its leaves. Eventually he made the conscience to make all the wrongs he had in his life right. He went and told his wife, who had left him during the movie with their child, how much she meant to him. He went and told his mother that he loved her, but his final three words were to his father were the mot powerful: I forgive you. His final words dropped the last three leaves off the tree, but the choice brought him to the revelation of how important it was to say the right words with your heart. To make the right choices in your life considering what you say could be your last. Of course, he lives in the end and the Bohdi tree gets all its leaves back, which signified that he was given the gift of a second chance. We need to weigh our words and use them wisely. We need to speak as Jesus did out of the love of His heart not out of the necessity just to be able to speak.
We need to use our words like they are our last.