The Awesome Power of Words
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 12:34b (Holman) “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the
The Pharisees spewed ugly lies; our Master spoke beautiful truths. Jesus decided this contest of contrasts was a good place to speak about the awesome power of words.
Words transmit thoughts. We think in words; in fact, we can’t think without them. Thoughts, once formulated, transfer into words which affect the world for better or worse. Statesmen use words to shape a nation’s destiny. Tyrants do, too.
Words reveal us. Speech betrays us. What’s in the heart, our center of personality, bubbles to the surface. Talk to people long enough and you’ll discern if their mind is pure or dirty, cruel or kind. What’s in the well gets in the bucket.
In the heart, hide the Word of God (Psalm 119:11). From the heart, keep lust and anger. Guard the heart. Set a sentinel around it 24/7, screening inflow and outgo.
A major test in life is how well we keep bad, evil thoughts from entering our hearts, and when one does penetrate, how quickly we kill it rather than express it. “I might as well say it as think it” is a lie. When hurtful, angry, dirty speech is squelched, only one person, the one thinking the thought, is hurt. When bad words are spoken, carnage is widespread.
The human heart is a huge reservoir. From it life essence flows through several pipes. Lips, eyes, hands, and feet do what the heart prompts. Keep the reservoir clean. Otherwise, sewer water will course through the pipes.
Matthew 12:35 “A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.”
The word “storeroom” in the Greek is “thesaurus,” a term we commonly use to describe a storeroom (collection) of words. The same word is used of the Magi’s chests, which contained gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).
A thesaurus, storeroom, is not necessarily in and of itself precious. Whether it is a treasure or not is determined by what’s in it. Two chests can be of equal value, but if one contains $100, the other $1000, the latter is more of a treasure.
People are of equal value. The level of treasure each develops is determined by what is in the heart. If their heart is good, there is treasure; if evil, no treasure.
The heart is our treasure chest. Satan would love to have a key to it, to rob us of priceless treasure. He makes it hard for us to do daily Bible time and prayer, to tithe, to not lust or envy. These and all other battles are won or lost inwardly.
If we enjoy hearing dirty jokes and watching filthy TV shows or movies, vulgarity will eventually ooze like scum off our lips. If we harbor bitter thoughts and sleep on our wrath, angry, hostile words will someday explode like grenades.
If we don’t snuff out evil thoughts before they gain a foothold inside us, we won’t be able to corral them, to keep them in. Let God destroy our inner sins, or they will destroy our outer duties.
Our only hope of spiritual success as human beings is a radical change of heart. We cannot make our own way. We are too sick to work our own cure.
All who try to reform the heart by influencing behavior work backwards. Don’t begrudge the effort. Secular society has no other recourse. But all who are limited to this approach are doomed to massive failure, despite wonderful intents.
However much the fruit is beaten, prepared, sweetened, and cooked, the root remains unchanged. Even the best qualified sentinel can not keep a truant heart in.
Reformation is not enough; transformation is required. Ethical teaching and moral training will not save us. We need a dynamite power from Heaven to enter us to expel our evil. We need regeneration, God’s very own life planted in us.
Luther wisely said good works do not make people good; we must be good before we can do good. The storeroom, our center of personality, has to be good.
Only God can do this. He alone can produce good treasure in our storeroom because He alone is good. The ultimate answer to the world’s worst problems is not political, legal, or military, but spiritual, a change of heart. We can not fix us.
Macbeth asked, what can “pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow”? His physician replied, “Therein the patient must minister to himself.” But herein lies our problem. We don’t have power enough to fix or change ourselves.
I can’t stop chewing my fingernails or muster enough internal fortitude to exercise regularly and push away from the table sooner. If we find these routine tasks hard to handle, how can we ever overcome deep seated sins and addictions?
The phrase, though jaded by use, is still true, “The hope of the world is Jesus.” I more and more find myself on a personal crusade to fire us up to be more jealous for Jesus. Sometimes I feel like a one-man band leading a one-man parade marching the wrong way down a one-way dead-end street, but I want to go to my grave beating this drum.
Use Jesus’ name often. Never miss a chance to use it in conversation. Don’t stop with “God, Second Baptist, Christian,” or any other name or title.
Say “Jesus.” Say it repeatedly and say it without shame. “There is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12b).
There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.
Oh, how I love Jesus, Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus, Because He first loved me.
Thank you, Frederick Whitfield, for this blessing. Don’t shortchange Jesus. Speak His name loud, clear, and often. He is worthy.
Multiplied millions can testify to radical moral change in their lives brought about only by Jesus’ power. Evidence and proof of Jesus’ transforming power abound. It’s so overwhelming that we can actually miss it, unable to see the trees for the forest.
G. Campbell Morgan quoted “The Service of Men,” a book by J. Cotter Morrison, an unbeliever, “The Christian doctrine has the power of elevating and developing saintliness which has had no equal in any other creed or philosophy.”
To see modern-day miracles of morals should compel people to bow in reverence to Christ. This is why a hyper-emphasis on physical healing can divert us from the main miracle we need to be proclaiming to the world.
I strongly believe in divine healing. We need to ask God boldly to heal, but we cross a dangerous line when we act as if healing is the most powerful miracle.
The ultimate practical argument favoring Christianity is its power to radically change lives. This is Christianity’s trump card. In real life, it works.