In my previous article I wrote about how words can take the form of a curse, bringing harm and destruction to people’s lives. Our words are more powerful than we sometimes realize, and they can cause much damage to others if we are not careful.
But now I want to explore the other side of this; how our words can bring encouragement, blessing, and life to others.
I was struck by something I saw a little while ago in Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” The phrase impart grace really stood out to me. Paul is teaching that our words are able to build people up and to acutally release grace into their lives. That is a powerful thought!
Grace is God’s enabling influence or power in a person’s life. And apparently, one of the ways that He releases it to people is through the words of others. Think about that. Your words can impart grace—divine enablement—into someone else’s life.
There are plenty of biblical examples of the power of words to encourage, bless, and strengthen others. Isaac spoke a blessing over Jacob, thinking it was Esau. When Esau came to receive the blessing, Isaac told him it was too late; he had already spoken the blessing over Jacob. He said “I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed” (Genesis 27:33). He knew that the words he spoke carried power in them to bring forth the things he had proclaimed over Jacob.
An interesting example comes from Daniel 10. Daniel is having a vision and an encounter with an angel of God. Look at what happens:
Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
-Daniel 10:18-19 (emphasis added)
Daniel was strengthened by the words of the angel. The words carried in them grace to build him up and release needed strength to him. In the same way, when we speak words that are inspired by the Holy Spirit, they carry the power to bless and strengthen others.
Jesus Himself exemplified the power of words. One of the common ways that He would heal people was to speak a word. When He appeared to the frightened disciples after the crucifixion and resurrection, He said “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). This was not simply a greeting; I believe He was actually releasing the peace of God to them in their time of fear.
This is the same thing Jesus taught His disciples to do when they were sent to minister.
“But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.”
They were to release the peace of God that they carried inside of them to the places that they went. And they were to do it with their words.
In the next week or so I will post some articles on the gift of prophecy; one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says this about the prophetic gift: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Essentially, prophecy is words that are inspired by the Holy Spirit. And when these words are spoken, they carry the power to build people up, to comfort those in need, and to stir up the spirit of those who listen. As we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and speak words of life to others, they will be strengthened in their walk with God and encouraged in their circumstances.
I know that teaching on the power of words can be taken to unbiblical extremes or turned into magic formulas. And I certainly don’t understand all of how it works. But I want to encourage you to take Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:29 to heart. Be careful about the words that come out of your mouth. Make sure they are not corrupt or damaging. Instead, let them impart blessing, strengthening, and grace to the ones you speak to.