Words That Build Or Destroy

I highly recommend watching the movie “Darkest Hour” and Gary Oldman’s Oscar winning portrayal of Winston Churchill during the dark days of WWII. The story was so fascinating that I’m now reading the book “Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink” by Anthony McCarten. In the forward to the book McCarten makes this interesting observation about Churchill and the power of language in a dark time.

When Winston died, it was said of him that in those dark days in 1940, when Britain stood alone before a monstrous enemy, he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.

That phrase “he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle” really struck me. Winston Churchill was able to harness the power of language to rally a beaten-down nation to rise up against fascism and ultimately defeat it. Sadly I’m not seeing a lot of that kind of use of language these days. I see, and hear, and read, statesmen on both sides of the political spectrum devolving into mean spirited, low blow, accusatory dialogue that divide and conquer people. Sadly I see even more of this in social media where everyday people are treating social media as this vehicle for stream of consciousness commentary, as if what they’re writing isn’t permanent (which it is in this information age) and isn’t hurting anybody because nobody is standing in front of them when they write whatever they want to write.

If you’re one of the readers of my blog, please lift your social media commentary to the place where all that you are writing is fair, avoids demonizing others, and builds bridges between people. Our words really do matter, and they are not neutral. Every word spoken or written has the power to either build or destroy. We must use our words wisely bearing in mind what James, the half brother of Jesus, observed about the tongue in the book of James.

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.   James 3: 5-10

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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