Today’s question: Should the words posted on someone’s blog or contained in a 140 character tweet be considered word of mouth, or something else? And why is it that pictures with words in quotation marks posted on platforms such as Facebook become attached to the individual in the picture, rather than the person who posted the image? I think there can be little doubt that if someone takes the time to write their thoughts and share them, no matter the medium, such words must be equal to the spoken word and must have come from the heart. So why, if they come from the heart, do our words seem to get us in so much trouble?
Certainly we hurt each other with our words, either spoken or written. Often times, word of mouth is also the least reliable witness that we can listen to. Yet, word of mouth, rumor or gossip, all too often seem to be the words that carry the most weight. This is tragic for several reason, least of being that when we say something that offends, we can’t simply take the words back. They are out there and they remain. The very least we can do is admit our mistake, ask for forgiveness and then move on. In our world of social media and instant messaging within a nonverbal community, such negativity seems to spread like wild fire. Thankfully there is also a positive and pleasing quality to our words as well.
Just as the ugly connotations of insults and angry words remain, so do the endearing positive effects of our words when they are spoken in love for one another. These words not only come from the mouth, they also come from the heart. Words of forgiveness, words of healing, and words of love last longer than mere actions. Such words from the heart go directly to the hearts of others. When we take time to share a good word with someone, even in an adverse situation, the words endure in a healthy way. It is so important that we realize the power of our words.
Certainly it is difficult to be ever mindful of the things we say or write. It isn’t always our priority to carefully read out Facebook posts and tweets before they hit the air, especially when we react to an emotionally charged situation. Yet, Jesus calls us to be careful with our words. Christ calls the people of God to use good words, words of love, so that as we speak, our words do not defile or injure.
The old saying about sticks and stones we learn as children still carries weight for us as adults. But when we do hurt others with our words, and we know that from time to time we will, we must remember that we can’t really take them back. Therefore, we must remember to speak the words of love, healing, repentance and forgiveness; because the words that hurt most of all are the words we leave unspoken.