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The Power of Words

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. Proverbs 29:20

I heard someone tell a story once about an old saint who was wounded very badly by the false but hurtful words that a young man used against him. The older man was already physically feeble, but the effects of those words drove him to his deathbed. As he lay there dying, the young man came into his hospital room in tears, begging for forgiveness. The old saint assured the young man that he was completely forgiven but asked a favor of this young man before he left. He asked him to remove the pillow from beneath his head and slice it open. He then asked him to go to the window and dump out all the feathers. Though he did not understand, the young man did as he was asked. “Now,” said the old man, “I want you to go and pick up all those feathers.” Of course, the young man stammered, “But that is impossible. The wind has blown the feathers I know not where.” To which the old saint replied, “Nor can you ever again gather the words that you have sent out.”

We must be so careful with the things that we say. Things said in jest or on a whim may be just the thing that could hurt another person for years to come. Words said in anger or in haste can never be taken back. You can beg for forgiveness, and it will likely be given. But the person to whom those mean things were spoken will probably never be able to forget your words. Words spoken in gossip or in falsehood can never again be retrieved. Their effects are like throwing a pile of feathers into the wind and trying to gather them again. It is impossible because you never know exactly where those feathers have lodged. They may be hidden in dark corners or carried away to a far place by a vehicle or a person who happened to pick them up. There is no telling where your words will lodge, and once spoken, they can never be gathered again.

Sometimes the best way to watch your words is to just keep silent. You don’t always have to voice your opinion or let everyone know just what you are thinking. There is much wisdom in measuring out the things that we say and in taking care to ensure they are going to be helpful instead of hurtful before we say them.

Read also: Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

Quote of the day: "Keep your words sweet – you may have to eat them.”

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