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Keith King sued Francisco Huizar III for “alienation of affection,” among other complaints, after Huizar had an affair with King’s wife. King filed his lawsuit in North Carolina, one of a few states where a person can sue another person for breaking up his or her marriage.
A North Carolina judge has now ruled that Huizar should pay $8.8 million. He plans to appeal.
Meanwhile, CBS executive Leslie Moonves stands to lose as much as $300 million if the network cancels his contract. Six women are alleging that they were sexually harassed by Moonves over the years.
In other news, several states joined efforts yesterday to block a Texas man from offering instructions online for making plastic guns using 3-D printers. However, CNN reports today that more than a thousand people have already downloaded plans to print an AR-15-style assault rifle.
The weapons could never be traced if used in a crime since they have no serial number. They could slip more easily through metal detectors and would enable criminals to circumvent background checks.
What do these stories have in common? The power of words.
Words can be miraculous
Emily Dickinson: “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.”
Words dominate our culture. From the president’s speeches and tweets to congressional laws to judicial rulings, words define and govern our democracy. Not a day goes by when someone’s words do not make headlines, for good or for bad.
Words can be miraculous. God used them to create the universe (Genesis 1). Jesus is “the Word” of God (John 1:1). The Bible contains “the word of our God” (Isaiah 40:8).
All words are powerful. St. Augustine: “When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. So that the word already in my heart may find its place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then the voice passes away. The word which the voice has brought to you is now in your heart, yet it still is also in mine.”
God’s words are especially powerful. Jesus assured us that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Scripture testifies that “every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5).
Now the same Spirit who inspired the word of God (2 Peter 1:21) is ready to speak through us today. Why do we need his guidance for our words?
Are you your own friend?
Frederick Buechner, responding to Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), offers this reminder: “Maybe before I can love my neighbor very effectively, I have to love me–not in the sense of a blind passion, but in the sense of looking after, of wishing well, of forgiving when necessary, of being my own friend.”
Are you your own friend? If you spoke to others the way you speak to yourself, would they be grateful or wounded?
Psychologists have long known that the way we talk to ourselves is a crucial component of our emotional well-being. Self-affirmation helps us stand up to outside threats, persevere in difficult times, and face health problems more positively. By contrast, negative self-talk is significantly correlated with depression.
Perfectionism is one of Satan’s most subtle strategies against committed Christians. Sincere believers deeply want to honor their Lord and advance his kingdom. The enemy uses this desire to shift our focus from the One we serve to the ways we serve him.
He then accuses us whenever we fall short of our best (“Satan” means “accuser”). We think we will be better if we are harder on ourselves, so we unintentionally join him in self-condemnation. The result is a spiral into discouragement, self-doubt, and self-recrimination.
Our joy in the Lord can be our most attractive witness to a joyless culture. But if the world equates Christianity with driven, fault-finding negativity, why would it want what we have?
You cannot unring a bell
What we say about others can be as important as what we say to them.
God’s word instructs us to “speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2) and to “put away all malice” (1 Peter 2:1). Scripture warns that “with his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor” (Proverbs 11:9).
Here’s one reason our words about others are so powerful.
Psychologists have documented the “primacy effect“–our tendency to view others through the words by which they have been described previously to us. If someone tells us that a person is “untrustworthy,” we are less likely to give them an opportunity to win our trust. If we are told that the person is “friendly,” we are more likely to experience them as friendly.
In short, what we say about others can shape the reality they and we experience. And our words, once spoken, cannot be taken back. You cannot unring a bell.
This is why we are told to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Solomon observed that “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25).
Gracious words reveal a gracious spirit and magnify the God of grace.
Jesus noted: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
What will your heart speak today?