Words have incredible power. A word can speak things into existence. A word can change a person’s heart — or break it. A word can change the direction of history. Don’t underestimate the word. Have you thought about how shaping words are to a culture?
Consider Eskimos, for example. While the typical American has a few working words for snow, Eskimos utilize over fifty words for snow. Or let’s think about Brazil’s Pirahã tribe. This tribe, consisting of 310-350 people, has absolutely no clue what a number is. Their native tongue simply has no concept of numbers, and consequently, no concept of time.
Language may arguably be the single most shaping factor of humanity and that is why some people give their lives to studying it.
Linguists argue that the distinction between animals and human beings is language. Sure, animals can communicate. They can make signals and create noises, but they don’t have language. Language is a distinctly human feature, precisely because we alone were created in the image of God.
What does it tell us about God when we ponder the fact that He chose to speak to us through His Word? What does it tell us about God when we read in Genesis 1 that God, when He could’ve created the world by a thought, chose to speak the world into existence?
It tells us that God uses words.
It tells us that God, in His wisdom, has chosen the means of the word to speak things ex nihilo — to speak something out of nothing. That’s why God says through Isaiah: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is.55:11).
But don’t miss this. It wasn’t just the heavens and the earth that were created by words. God uses words to speak life to dead hearts.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).
The same God that, with a word, spoke the words “let there be light!” is the same God that commands us to declare the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Why? Because when we use words to share this life-altering Gospel, the Spirit uses those very words to create life. Do not underestimate the Spirit’s power in your use of words.
So yes, Christian, preach the Gospel at all times … use words when necessary.
And words are always necessary.