The Power of Words
"It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."
Old Testament law specified which foods the Israelites should eat and which they should avoid. But the Pharisees took the basics of the law and added to it a complex collection of oral traditions that turned faithfulness to God into something only a few Jews could accomplish.
Jesus confronted the Pharisees with their hypocrisy, showing how their oral traditions allowed them to avoid obedience to God's basic commandments (15:3-7). He also refocused the ethical debate. "It's not what you eat that really matters," Jesus said, "but what you say." Words have power to do great good or great harm. As James wrote concerning our tongue, "Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God" (James 3:9).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: So, what comes out of your mouth? Blessing? Cursing? How do you use the power of your words? Do you seek to do good with your words at work? at home? on the baseball field? in your neighborhood? Are there people in your life who need to hear encouraging words from you today?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, though I'm not terribly worried about what I eat, I can still obsess about things that really don't matter while at the same time avoiding that which really does matter. I can try scrupulously to avoid saying certain uncouth words and think that I'm honoring you. But then I can use my words to wound people. Or, if I'm not injuring them, I can forget to use my words to encourage them.
Forgive me, Lord, for the ways I use my words for evil. Help me to understand the power of words and to use this power for good, even today. Amen.