The Unspoken Word

Inherent Power

I believe that words carry great power.  Maybe it's because God spoke the universe into existence or because Christ is the Word Become Flesh.  Or maybe it's because I'm a blogger and an aspiring lawyer who believes in what I do.  Either way, words and create, encourage, inspire, build entire civilizations, or tear them down.  For this reason, we often focus on the words we say and their impact on others. 

Gaining Wisdom

When James 1 is preached on, many focus on the fact that the spoken word cannot be taken back, and it is wise to hold back what would be otherwise said in haste.  When I read this passage, though, I was left wondering whether bridling the tongue can be a means to wisdom itself as well:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Notice how the reason for being low to speak and slow to anger isn't so that you "don't hurt others' feelings."  The motivation is that anger is antithetical to producing righteousness.  If anger is bridled, a person has time to focus on the words left unspoken.  Was I really going to say that?  Where did that come from?  One has the time to capture his or her thoughts and examine them in light of the Word, and this examination shows us the areas we must excise to come into line with God's righteousness.

Combating Deceit

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Words have power: one of these powers is deception, and what is more powerful than self-deception?  There is an inverse correlation between bridling one's tongue and deceiving one's heart.  When we speak, we give free-reign to the desires of our heart.  The problem is that our hearts are notoriously sinful.  But when we bridle our tongues, we may examine our hearts and ask the Spirit to remind us who we are in Christ and empower us to live like the people we were created to be.

This is a hard lesson for me because as I said earlier, I work with words.  It's what I do, and in my professional field, the faster and better you work with words, the more valuable you are. Even so, the lesson learned from the unspoken word is far more valuable.  The slower I am to speak, the quicker I will be to listen to the Spirit.