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There’s no denying the fact that spoken words can have power. If your friend says she hates you, you’re going to feel hurt. If she says she loves you, then you’re going to feel blessed. Why don’t we stop right here and build a whole cult around the “power of the spoken word”? Sounds like a potential money maker, doesn’t it? Many Christians have done just this and today they will provide you with all kinds of instructions about how to use and not abuse the mystical power of your words.
Let’s examine this theory that verbalizing something releases some kind of supernatural power into the air. Not all words are powerful. When someone standing in another room calls out, “What was that? I didn’t hear what you said because I was rifling through the fridge,” are you blown away by the power of their spoken words? When the cashier at a fast food joint asks, “Would you like pickles on your hamburger?” is your personal universe rattled? Not hardly. Suddenly our newfound power seems to have lost its pizzazz.
What makes words potentially powerful is the engagement of the heart. If you tell me that you just won a thousand dollars, I can say, “Gee, that’s great,” while I’m checking the time on my watch, or I can cross my arms in a jealous huff and say, “Must be nice,” or I can gasp in shock and cry, “Really?! That’s so great!” as I’m hopping up and down in excitement. The first time, my heart wasn’t engaged, therefore my words rang flat. The second time, my heart attitude was negative, so my words had a deflating effect, and the third time, my heart attitude was positive, so my words had an uplifting effect. But this isn’t the whole story. How affected you are by my words has to do with what’s going on in your own heart. If you’re insecure and you care too much about my opinion, then you’re going to let my current mood boss you around. If I act jealous and petty, you’re going to end up feeling bad about the positive blessing in your life. If you really want my attention and you notice me looking at my watch, you’re going to feel hurt. But maybe you’re not insecure. Maybe you’ve learned how to be joyful on your own, whether or not anyone shares that joy with you. In that case, you won’t care what I say. The point is that I can try to use the power of my words on you, but I can’t control the way you react to them. I can’t make you cooperate with my power agenda. Maybe I try to compliment you but you blow me off. Maybe I try to insult you but you just laugh. By themselves, spoken words can’t make anything happen. Human beings are far too complex to be controlled by simple sounds.
Those who claim that there is great power in spoken words will try to back up their arguments by quoting every verse in the Bible that refers to someone speaking something. “God spoke the universe into existence” they’ll say. Now if we really think that God has a physical pair of lungs and vocal chords, we’ve got some bigger problems. God is not a human being, nor does He have a physical body or a physical throat. Just because God appears to us in human form, and describes His behavior to us in terms that our limited brains can comprehend, doesn’t mean that we should take everything He says literally. Does God sit on a throne because He gets tired of standing up? Does He wear a flowing robe because He gets chilly? The fact that God “spoke” the universe into being has nothing to do with us.
These same people will also give you a bunch of testimonials about how so-and-so used to go through life saying a bunch of negative things and she was poor and miserable. But then one day she discovered the power of spoken words so she started saying a bunch of positive things all the time. The next thing she knew, she was happy, wealthy, and healed. Now you just need to start going through life declaring what you want and you’ll be happy, too. Hm. Where is God in all of this? Oh, that’s right: He’s being manipulated by the power of our spoken words. His power to block blessings from our lives is instantly drained when He comes up against a really peppy Christian. He gets so overwhelmed by the power of name it and claim it that He feels compelled to give us what we want. This is what we’re saying when we peddle this “power of the spoken word” bunk. We’re saying that we’ve found a way to get God to give us everything we want. This is simply a Christianized version of good karma, bad karma. Hindus and Buddhists are big on the notion that we can manipulate our own futures by how we behave today. God says we don’t manipulate anything. He is the One controlling the way this universe turns, and if we want our lives to go well, we need to stay in alignment with the Holy Spirit by obeying His convictions.
We must be very guarded against the many cultic influences that have crept into the Church. Anytime someone tries to sell you some formula for how YOU can make all your carnal dreams come true, you should recognize the foul stench of Satan in the air. You’ll notice that the people who promote “the power of the spoken word” are always chasing after carnal joys: feeling good, loaded bank accounts, friends, fame, expensive toys. When’s the last time you heard of someone trying to speak themselves into a deeper understanding of what it means to be a slave of Christ? What happened to reverence and dependence and an acknowledgement that God works through suffering? The “power of the spoken word” group is anti-suffering—as are all prosperity gospel teachers. They dismiss the huge benefits of being dragged through spiritual deserts by God. This is because in the desert, God teaches us that life is all about HIM and what HE wants. Those who want to go flinging their verbal wands about are only interested in what THEY want.
If we want to go far in the faith, heart attitude is what we should be focusing on, not our spoken words. Humility, reverence, and a “not my will, but Yours be done” attitude is what will steer us down the road of true spiritual blessings—GOD’s blessings, not the cheap carnal thrills we put so much importance on down here. God is very clear that it is the attitude of our hearts that shapes our futures, not what comes out of our mouths. We can go through life speaking nothing but sweetness and love, yet if we refuse to reverentially submit to the Lordship of Christ, we’ll end up roasting in Hell.
It’s quite true that words can be very powerful—not just spoken ones, but written ones as well. Here is a very powerful truth for you to ponder: “God created our souls to find true satisfaction only when we make pleasing Him our main focus in life.” That is a very powerful statement. If you prayerfully ponder it, it can change your entire life. But if you close your mind to it, the power of those words won’t do you any good at all. Heart engagement and submission to the Holy Spirit are what really determine the effect words have on us. If we are actively listening for God’s Voice and seeking His guidance in all things, we’ll find powerful words leaping at us from every direction. It is GOD’s power that we want, not our own. The “power of the spoken word” group gets this all backwards. They teach you to use YOUR verbal power to try and control GOD’s behavior. What you should be doing is asking God to use HIS power to change YOU into what HE wants you to be. See the difference? The first group is all about making your life better according to your human priorities. To them, God is simply a Source of supernatural power that we tap into in order to get what we want. This is carnal rot. We were created by God for HIS pleasure. Our lives should be revolving around Him, not ourselves.
Imagine the day you die and stand before God. In that moment, what is going to matter? His opinion, nothing else. You might think you did an okay job of serving Him on earth. But if He thinks you did a lousy job, then your assessment isn’t going to alter His judgment, or spare you from reaping the consequences of falling short of His demands. In that moment, it’s going to be all about God.
The mental image of standing before God is a good one to pull up whenever you are questioning some teaching in the Church. Any teaching which does not promote God’s opinion as the only one of any worth is obviously flawed. Any teaching which does not exalt God as far more important than us, and emphasize the importance of pleasing Him, is going to lead you astray. Life is all about pleasing God. We can deny this and live as if life is about pleasing ourselves, but in the end, we will be judged by how well we pleased God. Everything comes back to God. In eternity, every knee will bow, and every soul will verbally revere Him. This is what God has said will happen, and HIS words have far more power than ours ever will. God says that unless we sincerely desire to please Him with our lives, we’re just wasting our time. Everything we do that opposes His priorities is going to burn up like so much garbage in eternity. Is pleasing our flesh one of God’s priorities? Is it honoring to Him when we go around promoting ourselves as naturally powerful creatures who can alter the universe through some carefully chosen verbalizations? The New Agers are the ones who say that people are divine beings with unlimited inner power. Now whole branches of Christianity are selling us the same rot under a slightly different label. Don’t fall for it. You are God’s literal property. You can’t even breathe without His Divine assistance. You don’t have any power on your own, and God isn’t going to give you power just so you can exalt yourself like a mini-Satan. The only thing you should be focusing on is how you can please God as much as possible during your time on this earth. The only spoken power you should be interested in is the kind that blesses God’s heart. God enjoys it when His people ask for Him to have His total way in their lives. He delights in our verbal invitations for Him to totally dominate us, and to make us do His bidding even when our souls cringe in dread. But we don’t need to speak out loud to bless God. Our hearts are what speak loudest to Him, which is why the deaf, the mute, and all other voiceless humans have just as much opportunity to please God as those who can speak out loud and clear. Forget about the power of your words. What is your heart saying to God right now? Is it telling Him that He is the One you care most about pleasing? If not, then ask the Holy Spirit to get you there as quickly as possible.