Our words reveal to others our character

Not many things have the power of life and death, the power to make a person feel as good as a member of the royal family or as bad as a ?cotton-headed ninny muggins,? as Buddy the Elf would say. But words do, and, sadly, we often use them so carelessly.

Maybe since I?m a writer, I?ve always cared a lot about words and the way they?re used. It seems like every day I get more and more upset about the way people, especially my peers, choose to use their words.

Walking around campus, I hear language that makes me sick to my stomach. It?s not only students at K-State, either; those same foul words are being spoken on campuses around the country, in popular movies, on TV shows, in songs on the radio, on the Internet and more.

Whether they?re positive or negative, words are extremely powerful. The Bible has a lot to say about how God views our words and the power they possess. Proverbs 18:21 says, ?Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.?

In the New Testament, Jesus warns we will be judged for our words. Matthew 12:36-37 reads, ?I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.?

Mahatma Gandhi understood how powerful words are when he said, ?Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.?

In a sermon I once watched on LifeChurch.tv, Pastor Craig Groeschel explained that the only way we can change our lives for the better in big ways is if we submit to changing the small things. Words usually come so naturally to us that we pay no attention to how they are affecting the way we live. The more we speak words that are full of love and life, the more our actions and habits will reflect that love and life.

Again, the Bible talks not just about what we shouldn?t say but about what we should. Ephesians 4:29 says, ?Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.?

So not only should we keep from using bad language, we should strive to use our words to encourage and build up others.

With today?s technology, though, our words don?t just include what we say verbally. The words we post on social media have just as much impact. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are huge gifts that we can use to encourage and build each other up, yet it seems like many of us regularly use them to tear others down, complain about trivial things, or brag about our own lives.

Whenever a swear word, or a negative phrase in general, drifts past my ears or shows up on my timeline, I often ask myself this question: What could I do that would make that person change his/her word choice next time?

I would really like to hand that person a bar of soap and some water and say, ?Wash your mouth out and put a dollar in the swear jar!? But, since that probably wouldn?t go over very well, the best I can do is to set an example with my own words, something I hope you?ll do, too.

I?ve never used a swear word in my life and I?ve still managed to express my opinions and emotions just fine. My hope is that whomever is reading this column would choose to do the same, and that together we could speak life and love to a world that desperately needs it.