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The Impact of Our Words

The very universe we inhabit was created by a stupendous force: words. God literally spoke the heavens and earth into existence. And when He created us in His image, God entrusted us with the powerful gift of speech. James compares the tongue to a ship’s rudder; though significantly smaller than the ship itself, the rudder determines what course the ship will take. In the same way, though the tongue is a small part of the human body, Proverbs 18:21 says it possesses “the power of life and death.” Our words have a huge potential; they can heal or wound, empower or devalue, build up or tear down.

Paul David Tripp, in The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, says, “Words belong to the Lord. What this means is that whenever you take words as belonging to you, your words lose their shelter from difficulty. You have never spoken a word that belongs to you, because words belong to the Lord. We think that words are not that important because we think of words as little utilitarian tools for making our life easier and more efficient, when they are actually a powerful gift given by a communicating God for His divine purpose.”1

God’s Word has an infinitely powerful impact. I have prayed the Word of God many times over certain situations, but I personally experienced the power of speaking it one Sunday afternoon in Walmart. A friend and I had just walked in the door and started down the aisles when someone started screaming hysterically. We followed the screams to an inner aisle, where we found a woman convulsing violently on the floor. Her adult daughter was the one screaming, and would not be comforted. She slipped into the next aisle to call the paramedics. When she did, I walked over to her mother, and knelt down beside her. She did not appear to be in any immediate danger, and was not choking on her tongue. I touched her and softly said, “Peace, be still, in the Name of Jesus.”

The seizure immediately stopped, and her body seemed to heave a huge sigh of relief. By this time, her daughter returned, loudly exclaiming to everyone that the ambulance was on its way. I got up just as quietly as I had approached, and went on my way.

God’s Word is sovereign, and we can wield it against the enemy like Jesus did in the wilderness. Every time Satan tempted Him, Jesus countered with, “It is written . . .” then proceeded to quote Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” If we exercise diligence in memorizing Scripture, we will be armed to do battle with the Sword of the Spirit.

Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Golden apples are a beautiful fruit, but imagine them artistically nestled in a bowl of sterling silver! This is the kind of loveliness, sweetness, and fragrance we can exude through our words.

For better or for worse, we are shaped by the words of our parents, by those who love us or hate us, and by those whom we have never even met. Scottish theologian William Barclay said, “One of the highest of human desires is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”2

Sharon Jaynes, in The Power of a Woman’s Words, describes the powerful impact our words can make on our children:

We can’t always see the destructive potential of our words, but let’s imagine the following scenario. Your child gets up in the morning and dresses in a shingled outfit much like the Jolly Green Giant; the only difference is that the outfit is made of Post-it notes. Every time you question his worth, criticize, make him feel guilty, incapable, insufficient or unattractive, the hurtful words are scribbled across a slip of yellow paper and it flutters to the ground. Perhaps when you see the paper begin to fall, you realize the effect of your hurtful words and try to stick the paper back on with a positive word. However, it won’t stick. The child goes off to school and hears more discouraging words, and more shingles fall to the ground. Finally, at the end of the day, the child comes home, exposed, naked, and insecure.3

Captain Jean Harper, a pilot for United Airlines, bucked the odds when she was told repeatedly while growing up that women could not be airline pilots. Harper’s interest in aviation sparked early in her life, because her father was a crop duster. After a third-grade teacher told Harper that women do not become pilots, she was crestfallen. But her dad encouraged her with the example of Amelia Earhart, and told Harper her teacher didn’t know what she was talking about. Later on, in high school, Harper was blessed to have a teacher who encouraged all her students to reach for their dreams. In 1978, she became one of the first three female pilot trainees accepted by United Airlines, retiring in 2013 after a 35-year career.


Reflection Questions

Describe an example of a woman who positively influenced you by her words.

What can happen when a leader doesn’t realize the power of her words?



1John Piper and Justin Taylor, General Editors, The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (Crossway Books, 2009), 24.
William Barclay, “The Letter to the Hebrews,” The Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh, Scotland: St. Andrews Press, 1955).
Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words (Harvest House Publishers, 2007), 53, 54.


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.

“The Power of a Woman's Words” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, ©2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.