I was out riding the other morning. As I rode home, I rode past a group of three council men picking up an enormous amount of rubbish around a building site. The rubbish had blown into the park and down the road.
With their long pick up sticks and plastic bags in hand, they were busy at work making a beautiful difference. As I rode up to them, I was so grateful for what they were doing but also felt for them in the job they were needing to do.
So as I cycled past them, I caught their eyes and said thank you for what they were doing. The first guy whipped his head around with a cautious defending look on his face. The second looked up and seeing the smile on my face relaxed and smiled back.
It hit me again riding off, how much I appreciated their activity and how it nourishes us towards honor, dignity and respect.
But I was also intrigued at how we are becoming conditioned to public interaction being the default place of expecting angry, ticked off people.
We are in one the most dramatic moments of human history, where the weightiness of our words has a far reaching impact like none other of previous generations. There is such a war on our words right now.
Social manners, social discourse is up for grabs, but even more serious than quality of living with one another, is the serious attack on our identities.
In an interview earlier this year, Dr Brene Brown said that from her research, “Participants expressed a growing concern that the only thing that binds us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect, or love. People report feeling more afraid to disagree or debate with friends, colleagues and family because of the lack of civility and tolerance.”
Psalm 57:4 quotes Brene in this way, “My soul is among lions: I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.”
Interestingly in Ephesians 6 one of the weapons we are given is the ‘sword of the Spirit’. This sword was an 18” dagger in 61AD when Paul wrote this letter to the people of Ephesus. This dagger was specifically used not only for close combat but for the soldier to dig out arrows that had hit him.
Ever had a sudden pang out of no where felt in your body, especially your back? It can be word arrows hitting you.
And so the words of Proverbs 23:7 echo and play out in our everyday lives, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”
As sons and daughters of God, our words create worlds. Because we are made in the image of God, when we speak our words, something is created. We see this in Genesis. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3
Our entire existence, the world and galaxies around us were spoken into existence. This is the both the nature of God and our nature of whom we are made in.
This is the exciting power of prophecy. It is a spoken word from God, that just birthed something into the realm of men that did not previously exist.
Coupled with this reality, is the reality that our words also carry resurrection power. Romans 8:11 says “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
When we give the Holy Spirit permission in our lives, we are receiving the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We have resurrection power flowing in our DNA that gives life to us. Our words will resurrect things.
Robin Williams said it well in ‘Dead Poets Society’, “No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the word.”
Some of the most powerful words that are changing the world, are coming from what I call a movement of honor. Pastor Bill Johnson defines honor as celebrating who a person is without stumbling over who they are not.
But honor is also about owning our stories, being willing to live alive to recognise the words which are building these stories and receiving their truth with compassion, not off loading our pain, discomfort and made up stories.
Honor is what big people do. Honor is what free people do. Honor says “we are better than this.” Honor is who we are, not the narratives that shame the ‘master emotion’ as Sociologists call it, speak.
There is a higher standard and invitation being asked of us in this moment of history with all the freedoms of speech and connection at our disposal.
That standard is honor. This standard will stop the war on words and create a new default place, one marked by civility, gratitude, truth, love and above all connection.
The standard begins with us. It begins with us as parents teaching our children, and being this in our workplaces and sporting clubs.
We are honorable because it is who we are. We are honourable not because we base our honor on the actions and behaviours of others. Because we are honourable, we speak words knowing they create worlds.
And by the way, if the sharp pain felt was a word arrow. Pull it out by forgiving the speaker(s) and declare blessing over them in Jesus name.
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