If you peruse the internet, you’ll find a plethora of information on the most dangerous things in the world. The lists are expansive and varied, ranging from mosquitos to motorcycles and anything in-between. Some things are listed in gest, while others given in all seriousness.
However, after reading several of them (I’m a sucker for lists articles), I think many have missed the most dangerous thing of all. While pufferfish and asteroid strikes can certainly be deadly, I believe the most dangerous thing in all the world is words.
Words are the most powerful force available to humanity. More powerful than an atomic reaction, words have a power to destroy in a fraction of a second. It’s amazing the damage that words can inflict. The power of words is seen in the lasting effects left on the soul of their target. That’s why the Bible cautions us to be careful when using them.
And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power! Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body and is a hellish flame! It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence. (James 3:5–6, TPT)
It only takes a small spark to set a soul on fire. Words spoken innocently, carelessly, or intentionally can burn deeply. Words can leave us so deeply wounded that our confidence, self-respect, self-love, value, and worth disintegrate. Words can create such damage that our dreams, passion, and purpose wither. Words can extinguish our hope, leaving such scars that years later, after the event has long since passed and it seems as if we are over it, their effects are still evident.
When we give words to another, we are giving them the most powerful thing we possess. Whether or not it is our intention, words can bring ruin and destruction like no other force. This is why Jesus told us in Matthew 12:36–37 “…. you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” We cannot wield such power without accountability. The word “idle” in this passage means “lazy, thoughtless, unprofitable, injurious.” We will give an explanation to God for every word that we were too lazy to restrain and bring under the submission of Christ. For every word that was thoughtless, insensitive, or careless. For every word that crushed, produced drama, was injurious, or brought ruin. We will be accountable for every word
But on the flip side, words also have the power to do tremendous good. They can soothe, heal, and restore better than the best medicines. Words can support, encourage, inspire, and motivate like nothing else. Words have the power to bring life, foster hope and instill value. Words can change the trajectory of any situation, steering it into calm, still waters, bringing stability and tranquility. Your words can change a life.
Think about that. Those little puffs of air that wisps over your vocal cords have the power to bring life or death into a situation. (Proverbs 18:21) That’s sobering. That means it’s time we take our words very seriously.
In our book, The Complaining Cure: How to Quit Grumbling, Stop Criticizing and Find Abundant Joy, Bill and I challenge you to look carefully at the words you speak. We talk about the power of words and the impact they make on us physically, mentally, and spiritually. We specifically look at the impact complaining, and critical words have on ourselves and others. We invite you to take this challenge with us and root out negative words so your soul is healthy and full of joy.