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In my last post, I shared about how science gives us a glimpse into what happens in our brains when we speak or think positive or negative words.
I am fascinated by the brain, and I love how science helps us understand how we function, giving us guideposts for living a more vibrant life.
But the power of words is no modern discovery.
Long before the first brain scan was conducted, the ability of words to change our world was revealed by God’s Word.
Today I want to share seven verses that establish the power of words from a biblical perspective. I’ve organized them into a list, followed by discussion and application.
- Our words have the power to encourage us, shape our outlook, and boost our mood: “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up” (Proverbs 12:25 NLT) (this applies to words we speak to ourselves as well as to others).
- Jesus revealed the power of our speech to overcome obstacles and change the landscape of our lives when He made this stunning statement: “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart” (Mark 11:23 NLT). Mountains are often symbolic of difficulties or challenges, and declaring that we have overcome a difficulty is the first step of victory.
- In Joel 3:10, we are told: Let the weak say, “I am strong” (KJV). This is a clear directive to proclaim both what we desire to see in our lives, as well as the truth of who we are in Christ. In his book, Declarations, Steve Backlund notes, “This passage tells the one who is having a weak experience to not agree with the experience, but to keep agreeing with God’s truth. It is not about denying weakness. (It does not say, "Let the weak say, 'I am not weak.'”) We are to believe we are a strong person having a weak experience. We keep moving forward in our biblical identity by saying (declaring) we are strong, not only thinking it.” He goes on to explain that this principle is not restricted to experiences of weakness, “but it is a universal principle to be applied to every area of life…‘Let the disorganized say, “I am organized.’”
- Multiple verses refer to the ability of words to generate health and healing:
o He sent out his word and healed them (Psalm 107:20 NLT).
o Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4 NLT).
o Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24 NIV).
- What we say can draw us toward life, or toward death; toward joy, or toward depression; toward purpose, or toward aimlessness: The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences (Proverbs 18:21 NLT).
We have the power to change our world for the better, and it starts with our words. Being vibrant and full of joy starts with saying, “I am vibrant and full of joy.” Even when we don’t feel like it.
I’ve seen this at work in my own life. For years, I announced to myself, “I am a confident and competent woman.” When I first started saying this, I felt anything but competent and confident. I was riddled with insecurity, anxiety, and low-self-esteem.
Today, I feel much more comfortable with myself and others. I’m not saying I never feel shy or anxious—those feelings still crop up on occasion—but when I look at how I typically feel now, compared to how I used to feel, I see major progress. And I know some of the progress came from the words I spoke, followed by the actions I took.
Likewise, we need to vigilant about avoiding negatives. When we say, I’m depressed…I’m alone…I’m overwhelmed…we are perpetuating these conditions in our lives.
I’m not saying we should never talk about the negatives—sometimes we need to in order to process and experience healing. Ideally, we have trusted friends and mentors with whom we can honestly share our struggles. But we do need to be mindful of how we talk and the messages we are sending to ourselves. Fixating on negatives can be detrimental; negative thoughts and words literally chisel distinct pathways in the tissues of our brains, making it harder and harder to see the positive and live healthy and whole.
When faced with negative feelings, one thing I find helpful is to acknowledge the struggle, but then also affirm a positive. For example, I might pray, “God, I feel so overwhelmed right now. But I thank you that through you I have all the resources and wisdom I need to navigate this situation successfully." This approach allows me to be open and honest with God (or a friend or mentor) about what I’m experiencing, but it also redirects my focus to an empowering truth.
This list of verses is by no means exhaustive. There are many other Scriptures that validate the power of words, but these are foundational to my understanding. The more I’ve learned about words, the more I’m convinced their proper use is pivotal to a vibrant and purpose-filled life. There is much about how it all works that I don’t yet understand, but I am committed to doing my best to follow what the Bible teaches.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I recommended the book Declarations, by Steve Backlund.
Prayer: Thank you God for creating words. Help me to always remember that what I think and speak matters and has life changing power. Show me areas where I particularly need to speak positively, and reveal to me of areas where the power of your Word has been at work in my life. Amen.
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