Author James Thurber wrote about the time in March, 1913, when someone, they don’t know who, said that the dam outside the town had broken. Then, perhaps because he was late for a meeting with his wife or something, a man began to run, and then someone else, and soon the whole town was fleeing in fear of a broken dam that, well, had not been breached.
Wrote Thurber: then “soon somebody else began to run, perhaps a newsboy in high spirits. Another man, a portly gentleman of affairs, broke into a trot: Inside of ten minutes, everybody on High Street, from the Union Depot to the Courthouse, was running. A loud mumble gradually crystallized into the dread word ‘dam’. ‘The dam has broke!’”
Words are powerful things. The Bible has a lot to say about them as well:
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
“Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow/ is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.” (Proverbs 25:18)
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
Words are not neutral. There is, in them, life or death. “The tongue has the power of life and death, /and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Who hasn’t experience, for themselves, the incredible power of words, for good or for evil? Who hasn’t felt crushed, disemboweled, dismembered by unkind words. Or who hasn’t felt uplifted, strengthened, and encouraged by words?
Our words, our language—is a gift from God. We can use them for life, and for good, or for death, and for evil. Choose life!