Words Matter

Speaking with Wisdom in an Age of Outrage

When my brother was little, he was obsessed with superheroes. His favorite was He-Man, an 80s cartoon where wimpy Prince Adam, a simple blond pageboy, transformed into an armor-clad muscleman when evil threatened the kingdom.

Now, one of the complications of being a superhero, especially a secret one, is figuring out how to change into your super-self without giving away your secret identity. Superman had telephone booths, and Batman had the Bat Cave, but poor Prince Adam had to pretend to be a coward and run away, so he could find a private place to unsheathe his magical sword and yell, “I have the power!”

His words, combined with his actions, transformed him into He-Man. And He-Man was a force to be reckoned with.

We certainly don’t base our theology on superhero cartoons, but like Prince Adam, our words have power. They don’t have magical, mystical power like some Christian and secular self-help books would say. We can’t just strike a power pose, repeat an affirmation like “I have the power,” and become the Masters of the Universe, bending it to our will.

But words are powerful tools that can be used for great evil or great good. Proverb 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” That’s just the start of what the Bible has to say about how we wield our words.

Jenny Rae Armstrong