Introduction: A Word about the Context ~
As you read this, the Gallagher compound is officially (well, almost) on the road to our new home in Tennessee. The article that follows is a slightly edited piece that we published a couple of years ago, but the message is certainly relevant now. We’ve seen chaos and anarchy before, but nothing recently compares with the violence, looting, and property destruction we’ve been witnessing for the past week. The inflammatory rhetoric that is interwoven with dramatic videos is the primary mechanism that keeps the rage alive and the inner cities burning. Interestingly, the article that follows was not written in reference to what’s going on now, but it easily could have been, and the message certainly fits.
Words present a unique and challenging paradox. While they are sometimes profound in their strength, at other times, when called upon to express something deeply moving, words feel woefully impotent. In some cases, they are vitally important, while in others, they’re given no more consideration than the garnish on a plate, valued for appearance but never intended to actually be consumed.
The Scope and Power of Words ~
Words can encompass territory that is almost without limit, and the power they can wield is immense. Words sometimes lay hold of concepts as expansive as the universe itself and expose them in ways that fill us with inexpressible awe. The difference between faith and hope or defeat and despair can be determined by the words that are applied, and even decisions with life or death consequences are often made on the basis of the words that are spoken or written. Words have served as tools by which men have awakened the passions and strengthened the resolve needed to enable them to rise up and carve nations out of chaos. But at other times, words have become a malignant virus that so undermined the foundations and weakened the spirit of a people that nations, once great and powerful, descended into chaos.
Given their potential for either beneficial or aggressive application, perhaps we should handle our words with the same care that we use when handling weapons. Firearms, for example, are simply “unbiased” devices with no will of their own. Guns are as willing to serve the murderous gangster as they are the protective police officer or the private citizen defending his or her home. Guns bring the same capacity to do good or evil through the hands of whoever holds them. Guns are involved in numerous non-threatening activities, such as competitive contests, or for hunting edible wildlife to provide food. Guns are also used in competitive competitions and personal recreation sports like skeet shooting. Guns come in all kinds, sizes, shapes, and power potential and can be configured for applications ranging from military combat to Olympic competition.
A Point of Agreement ~
Both those who love guns and those who hate them generally agree on at least one point. With their unquestioned power to project destructive force, handling them with frivolous disregard for their destructive potential would be foolishly irresponsible. Now consider that same perspective regarding words. Words that men have unleashed on one another have left a trail of violence, bloodshed, and human debris that all the guns ever made cannot equal. The Scriptures have warned us repeatedly that the words we so easily speak can become weapons that carry painful and even lethal potential:
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, But war was in his heart; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords. Psalm 55:21 (NKJV)
My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. Psalm 57:4 (NKJV)
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words, That they may shoot in secret at the blameless; Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear. Psalm 64:2-4 (NKJV)
We don’t usually think of our dictionary as an arsenal full of potential weapons, but we might think differently if we revisit a confrontation that took place in the very beginning of humanity’s long and bloody history. When the devil, intent upon destroying an entire race, invaded the Garden of Eden, he gave no hint of the violence in his heart. He entered that pristine paradise with no physical weapon with which to threaten Eve. Instead, he confronted the “mother of all living” with the only weapon he needed–words. His assault on God’s crowning creation began with words that first questioned, and then contradicted, the words that her Creator and Provider had spoken. Eve embraced the rebellious ideas that the devil’s words conveyed and then took his weaponized sentences to her husband. She convinced him to accept them as she had done, and to eat the forbidden fruit. When he did, the human race appeared doomed forever. But thankfully, there were more powerful words yet to come and God soon revealed that the devil didn’t own the dictionary.
The Word that Overcomes ~
Satan may have claimed victory as he ushered death into God’s perfect world, but he surely must have trembled thousands of years later as a baby’s cry rose up from a stable in Bethlehem. The twisted enemy who concocted the lies that led to the sins that filled the world with pain and death was doomed when Grace and Truth came to life in that stable. As air found its way into sinless human lungs, the omnipotent Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. Satan’s deceptions were defeated forever on Calvary’s cross, and an empty tomb validated the promise Jesus made to us all in the words He spoke to Martha:
…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
Words can either project life and hope, or they can transmit hatred and destructive rage. We cannot prevent the devil’s lies from being unleashed at us from every direction, but we can counteract them with words that come from the very breath of God. Lies may hold frightening power to corrupt and destroy, but only until the truth shows up. Prejudice and violence threaten every peaceful garden we ever find, but they wither and melt away in the presence of the One who absorbed the entire arsenal of the Father of Lies and overcame his power forever.
But here’s the point, as profoundly effective as the truth is, lies are invincible if the truth is never applied. Deceptive words reign supreme if we don’t speak, write, sing, and live out the words that contradict and overcome them.
We have at our disposal a veritable dictionary full of weapons that can dismantle the destructive ideas flooding our atmosphere every day. The lies and twisted philosophies that the world system promotes can only be victorious if lives that contradict them, and the words that overcome them, are never spoken. The dictionary is just a book until we use its contents to reveal and communicate the ideas lying dormant inside. Our Bible is just a book until we bring its words to life in ways that others can see and hear.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
“Satan may have claimed victory as he ushered death into God’s perfect world, but he surely must have trembled thousands of years later as a baby’s cry rose up from a stable in Bethlehem.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The twisted enemy who concocted the lies that led to the sins that filled the world with pain and death was doomed when Grace and Truth came to life in that stable thousands of years later.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“As air found its way into sinless human lungs, the omnipotent Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us … , preparing the way for Satan’s deceptions to be defeated forever on Calvary’s cross.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“Words can be either project life and hope, or transmit hatred and destructive rage. We cannot prevent the devil’s lies from being unleashed at us from every direction, but we can counteract them with words that come from the very breath of God.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“Prejudice and violence threaten every peaceful garden we ever find, but they wither and melt away in the presence of the One who absorbed the entire arsenal of the Father of Lies and overcame his power forever.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Lies are invincible if the truth is never applied. Deceptive words reign supreme if we don’t speak, write, sing, and live out the words that contradict and overcome them.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
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