Words are Weapons

Napoleon Bonaparte – feared military commander and Emperor of the French, knew battle strategy better than anyone in the early 1800s. In fact, he is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time; his campaigns and the wars he fought are studied in military schools worldwide. What fear would be in a man who seems destined to fight and to lead in battle?

In an interview with the renown military strategist, he once said, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”[1] 

Napoleon understood something about the battlefield that many times we forget – the power of our words. Our “tongues have the power to speak life or death” (Proverbs 18:21) and out of our mouths we can either say blessings or curses (James 3:10).

Since our words are weapons, what can we learn about the power of our words?

  1. WHAT WE SAY REVEALS WHAT’S IN OUR HEARTS

Jesus gets right to the point with this one! “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:18).

The Pharisees were offended that Jesus and His disciples had broken the tradition of the elders. Yet Jesus calls out their hypocrisy since they nullify the Word of God for the sake of their tradition.

Have you ever had someone tell you something quasi offensive and then say, “just kidding” shortly afterward? I cannot help but laugh at these moments since I know they really mean what they say! In these situations, what was in their hearts was revealed and was disguised as a ‘joke.’ Whether it’s something offputting, a complaint, or simply frustration, it’s easy to speak what we feel in the moment… especially if emotions run high.

In moments like these, I am reminded of verses like these:

  • Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. – Proverbs 29:20
  • He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:27
  • The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking. – Proverbs 15:28

It takes willpower, patience, and attentiveness to the Holy Spirit to not rush into your feelings or speak without thinking. However, I want to be a godly… do you? I want to be a person of understanding… do you? I do not want to sleep on the couch tonight because of something dumb I said… I’m sure that’s you as well!

In a practical sense, we may have to walk away for a short time to cool down. We can communicate that we need time to respond and we can get back to the person. The key is not rushing into words since we can say something that can make the situation worse.

2. OUR WORDS GO THE DISTANCE

I appreciate the imagery James gives us when it comes to our words: “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:3-6 (NLT)

When we say something damaging, it spreads. I see this twofold: it can spread within the person, to other people… or both. For example, let’s say someone at work casually speaks falsehood about their coworker that this person is lazy and their work is shabby. Others within the organization might believe it and/or continue spreading that damaging report. Now what happens if that coworker hears those lies about him or herself? He or she can internalize that and possibly believe the lie. If so, this person can allow the damage to spread like that forest fire blazing across the identity of his or her soul.

I believe we’ve all fell victim to harsh, critical, and destructive words in our lives.

However, we do not have to let those harmful words define us. It’s imperative that we give those damaging words to Jesus and ask for healing in His Name. Next, we look in the Scriptures to see how our Heavenly Father sees us and declare those words over our lives instead.

You are a child of God and the words of the past have no hold on you!

3) LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO ENCOURAGE

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” – Proverbs 25:11

Can you recall when someone said something to you when you REALLY needed it? Perhaps it when you were at an all-time low. It could be a time where you are doubting your abilities or are unsure of your circumstances. Whatever the case, you can remember how grateful you were for the person and for what they said!

I am considered a ‘words person’ (It’s from the 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman… you should read it!), so I appreciate and understand the value of positive words. The words I’m talking about are more than ‘Good message today Pastor’, but the words that are specifically construed to give me courage, strength, and shed off any fear. Therefore, I make it a priority to look for opportunities to encourage when I can!

Now, you may not be a words person (or even afraid to speak to people!) but we interact with people and use our words every day. Why not look for the ‘setting of silver’ to speak life? Instead of talking about the weather and sports, choose to go deeper by saying something you truly mean as an encouragement.

As the practical part of this post, find ways this week to use your words as an opportunity to build people up. If you know someone is going through a tough time, what can you say about who they are that they will appreciate? You may not be able to speak into their situation, but you can speak into their life. If you do not know the person as well, use your positive words to make a way for that person to open up. Please comment below about how you used your words as weapons for the Lord and have a great week!

Blessings!


[1] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/napoleon_bonaparte_101124

3 Comments

  1. We need to remember we are beautifully and wonderfullly made, in the image of God. Words are powerful, and self doubt and self criticism makes us forget how powerful our Creator really is. We may not be able to control the criticisms of others but we can control how we react to it. God did not give us a spirit of weakness, but of courage, strength and might. If we know we were created for a higher purpose, that purpose we can pursue and become the warriors God needs us to be for His name sake.

  2. Author

    Toni, you are so right! “We may not be able to control the criticisms of others but we can control how we react to it.” I love how you phrased it.

    Let’s walk towards the higher calling God has given each one of us and only cling to the words that identify with who we are in Christ!

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