Think about the words that have impacted you the most. Sometimes you remember words spoken into your life for many decades . . . burned into your memory. Some words have been encouraging with powerful positive impact in your life. Perhaps other words have been negative and damaging. Regardless, words have power.
You may remember diagramming sentences in grammar school? Most people either loved it or hated it:
- Complete subject / simple subject.
- Complete predicate / simple predicate.
- Adverbs (and phrases).
- Adjectives (and phrases).
- Prepositions (and phrases).
When you assemble parts of speech to form concepts and ideas, you assemble influence. Words have power. What you say does matter, and how you say it helps wield the power. This is one of the most valuable secrets of life. The key is to not use it for selfish gain or personal agenda. The apostle Paul has figured this out. So, he does not mince his words in 1 Cor. 4:14-21. This is an intriguing passage about word power. He is also bringing accountability to his readers. Let’s look at this power.
Paul takes on the role of a father who cares deeply about his children. You could say Paul is giving a live picture of what God is like as a Father to His children. He gives strong words of instruction, not shame. Paul exhorts his readers, urging them to follow his life example. Timothy, his spiritually adopted son, becomes Paul’s virtual letter to the church in Corinth. This young man is “the word sent via real life!” He is trustworthy enough to daily stay in Christ as a credible picture to the Corinthians. His words have power because his life has power.
You may not have a fatherly Paul in your life, but you have a Father who is perfect in goodness and loving-kindness. Your Heavenly Father continually speaks into your life with instruction, exhortation, warning, and deepest love. You can depend completely on whatever comes from the mouth of God. His words have power. They are also forever relevant. The Bible says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Mt. 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33) In fact, His words are more important than your daily bread. (Deut. 8:3b) Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that you don’t live on food alone, but on every word that God speaks. Interesting claim!
With words, alone, God created all things. The Genesis account of creation records “God said” – and suddenly things were created. In other words, God spoke everything into existence. Words are important to God. He uses them carefully, and urges His children to be equally careful in uttering words. God knows that words have power. The Word is another name for Jesus. He is the Living Word. The written Word is Scripture, and it is like Jesus on paper. It is power ready to jump off the page for anyone who will have fresh faith to believe what it says.
God’s power–house words are in the form of promises and commands. His gracious heart is 100% guaranteed. His warnings pack a punch. Summed up: God’s words power the entire universe. They also empower your life – if you are willing.
People who don’t value what God says live with a kind of arrogance. They have, in essence, reduced their personal power to “just talk.” Just talk is another way of using words, but it’s meaningless. How unfortunate for someone to use just talk to try to influence others. How much better to try to influence others with eternal words. Arrogance thinks one can live without God. Just talk is empty – and deserves a rebuke.
The strongest words are often unspoken, yet powerfully displayed through a faithful life. This gives a 3-D picture, a living/breathing model, an example to follow. St. Francis of Assissi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Do your words have power? How are you using your power? Is your life an example in daily activities to others around you? Does your quiet life pack a punch that draws people to Christ? Do you engage in just talk?
“The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (v. 20) Your best words are your conduct.
Article developed from 1 Cor. 4:14-21.