The Weight of Our Words

The Weight of Our Words

by Elsje Zornes | November 17, 2013

One of my favorite things as a little girl was the bedtime story we heard every night right before we drifted off into blissful slumber. Three little ones decked out in their favorite nighttime attire eagerly waited in one bedroom (usually mine) for my dad to come and charm our imaginations with all the different stories he read; the lilts of his “bedtime” voice must’ve been exceptionally self-soothing, as he usually fell asleep long before we got to hear the moral of his tale! My 5-year-old imagination was far too captivated by thoughts of castles, princesses, and creatures like little pigs, bears, and billy goats that came in groups of three, to regard the precious lessons to be learned from the various stories. However, the remembrance of a particular fable recently made me reconsider and rethink the significance of my words. 

The story tells the tale of a young man who has a large and lush apple tree in his front yard. One day, as the man went about business as usual, he was completely astonished to find a large, solid gold apple on his tree. I so clearly recall being totallyblown away by the size of this golden apple, it looked more like a glowing golden tropical watermelon--it was huge! The whole town soon found out about this marvel,and flocked in herds to the man’s house to come and behold the wondrous golden apple; everybody wanted to catch a glimpse of this super-sized fruit. And who can blame them? You don’t see golden apples on your typical trip to the grocery store; boy, not even Whole Foods stocks those! It was such a rare sight that all the wonderstruck town folk would’ve killed to preserve and protect this unusual treasure! 

The Bible compares the right word, spoken at the right time, to “apples of gold in settings of silver (Prov 25:11).” What a statement! The value of a wisely chosen word is comparable to the most precious metal. God places such a high value on words, and sadly, it would seem as if we, in our modern culture, have lost sight of the worth and weight words carry. We don’t think twice about spewing out every thought that comes to mind, not considering the lasting impact our words have. The discipline of choosing and considering every word we utter has become as rare as the golden apple in the story! 

Most young girls see nothing wrong with voicing their most intimate, private, and sacred feelings on a public platform, instead of guarding and weighing their words as if they were indeed as precious gold. Online social media has become an outlet for our innermost emotions and most sacred feelings, a place to “vent” in frustration or anger, or a soapbox to impulsively proclaim every minute detail of our daily lives. Instead of directing our hearts toward God in prayer, all too often we run to Facebook or our personal blog to broadcast to the masses the thoughts and sentiments that were meant to be guarded and protected with the same vigilance we would safe-guard the costliest jewels.

Scripture commands us to pour out our hearts before God, for He is a refuge for us (Ps. 62:8). Instead of allowing our words to rise as priceless incense before the throne of God, too many of us choose to spill and waste our words in places where their worth seems to fade as pearls in the mud of a pig-pen.

The Spirit of God desires to harness and bridle our lips, that our words might be protected by patience and upheld by wisdom. Scripture declares that there is more hope for a fool than for one who speaks in haste (Prov. 29:20). That should cause us to tremble! Amongst the many virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman, is the wisdom and kindness that are found on her lips. She opens her mouth with shrewdness and prudence, tenderness, and truth flow out to bring life to those around her. In stark contrast to the meek and quiet manner of the Proverbs 31 woman, whose worth is “far above rubies,” Scripture tells us that the adulteress woman is “loud and stubborn (Prov. 7:11),” and her mouth is smoother than oil (Prov. 5:3). This woman pours out foolish and unchaste words from her glossy, red-smeared lips, without any restraint or self-control. Her words have only one purpose: to draw all attention to herself. The agenda of her unrestrained soul is made clear through the words coursing through her lips; she seeks only to entice and allure, and has no interest in, nor regard for, self-control in the expression of her emotions and desires. That kind of attitude and behavior does not befit one whose lips have been cleansed and touched by the Spirit of God, to proclaim the wonders of His grace to a dying world. Scripture commands us in James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Let our words, therefore, be few and wisely chosen; for in the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but the one that refrains her lips, is wise (Prov. 10:19). 

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Another way of looking at it, is that words are like seeds that we sow whenever we speak or write. You choose the seeds you are sowing. Apple seeds always bring forth apples. You can plant apple seeds, that will bring forth apples that are nourishing and bring health and healing. Or you can plant poison ivy seeds, that will bring forth, you guessed it, poison ivy that only hurts, harms, and gives a really unattractive rash. 

We recently bought our first home. We discovered what many horticulturalists before us have concluded: Colorado’s soil is not conducive to thriving flora. The soil in our backyard is so dry and dead, it looks more like brown-tinted powder. Our dreams of a backyard that rivals the grounds of Pemberley have been shattered by the weedy desert we own instead. Until we truck in some good soil, even the best seeds will only wither and die if scattered in our yard. The same is true of our words. We can have seeds that are packed with life, ready to burst forth, blossom, and bear fruit, yet, if they are scattered in fallow ground, their end will see them wasting away. Precious words are not to be strewn on barren ground where they will be trampled, devoured, and devalued. Refuse to use the forum of the Internet to try and grow an orchard! All too often we wonder why our orchard ain’t growin’, and it is likely because we are sowing all our most precious seeds in the swamp of social media. Choose instead to be as a wise farmer, who carefully, cautiously, and with greatest discernment considers the most seasonable moment and the most fruitful soil before sowing his precious seed. 

What it comes down to is this: words matter. Twitter, Facebook statuses, and blogs–where you are encouraged and enticed to jot down every aimless word that comes to mind–would love to tell you otherwise. But may we be a generation of young women, amidst a world that disregards and devalues the significance of words, who allow the King to transform our minds, so that every jot and tittle we write, and every word we speak, shout, whisper, or sing proclaims the glory of Christ! May we be women whose words are drenched with the honor of Heaven, filled with the fragrance of Christ, and glistening with wisdom! May the branches in the orchard of our lives be full of the golden apples of life, truth, purity, and love. Let us be a generation of women who join the prayer of the old hymn: “Take my lips, and let them be, filled with messages from Thee.”