Words Matter

“Let the person who has ears listen!” Then he added, “Take care what you listen to. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more.” (Mark 4:23-24)

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." Ralph Nichols

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” Ralph Nichols

As we move forward to the end of the year, we have some choices to make about the words we say and the words we listen to.

When we listen to words that promote and escalate fear, violence, division and hate, when we listen to the vilification of whole groups of people, when we listen and rejoice at anger, rudeness and name-calling, we are listening to verbal violence, to terrorism of the tongue.

These words denigrate the words of Jesus. These words revile His image. They cheapen God’s grace and mercy, and belittle Christ’s sacrifice.

“The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord.  So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Terrorism works by terrorizing people – by keeping them too terrified to continue on with their way of lives. Terrorism works by turning people to focus on reckless rhetoric, naming people as the problem instead of calling out the problem as the problem.

“Ah, but who is my neighbor?” asked the scholar, hoping to make himself appear smarter than Jesus. (Luke 10:29)

In first century Israel, Hebrew people considered Samaritans an enemy. They were of a different religion, ethnicity and culture, and even though they lived in the same land, they did not assimilate with Jewish people.  In response to the question “who is my neighbor,” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

“You shall have the same rule for the foreigner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 24:22)

Today, our neighbors may be black or Hispanic, Asian/NHPI, Native American or European (cuz let’s face it, white isn’t a race), Jewish or Muslim, Christian or atheist, Buddhist or Hindu, gay or straight. What words do we use to describe “them?” Do we classify “them” all the same? Do we fear “them?” Do we regard “them” as a problem?

Have we taken the time to know any one of “them” as individuals? Do we know his story? Do we know her family? Do we understand his struggles? Do we have compassion for her pain, as Jesus did for the Samaritan woman at the well?

When we speak words of grace, encouragement, compassion and love, we mirror His image. We honor the words He spoke. We allow His Spirit to use us for God’s good pleasure. We lift others and become His heart, His hands and feet. We put aside our own small agendas and take on His greater mission.

“So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel,” declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 47:21-22, Matthew 25:34-40)

20 comments

  1. You know I am reminded that God looks at our hearts. Also God is also a God that gets angry over the way his people act. It is true he is a God of love. He also is a God of wrath. I say this to say some folks express their displeasure through their emotions and reactions. All our emotions are like God’s. He gave them to us. It is always better to be gentle and humble. However if we could see a person’s heart. There is what God is concerned with. Not promoting one issue over another. All of that is very foolish. Didn’t God say some are foolish with their knowledge.

    Blessings to you Susan

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    1. He did indeed, Tom. Good point.

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  2. Light Ministry Blog · ·

    I applaud you, Susan< for speaking of love and acceptance of all people. Yes, God loves all people, so does Jesus. They just don't love some of the things they do. This is our challenge as ambassador for Christ in this world need to find a way to model the Godly way of life to all those we come in contact with. Work with all people as we love them, just as we are loved by the Lord…

    Steve 🙂

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    1. I was specifically referring to how we speak about people, Steve.

      There were only two instances of Jesus speaking harshly to people. One was to the Pharisees, and some believe he only did that to hold a mirror up to their own name-calling behavior.

      The other was to the Syrophoenicean woman (Mark 7:24-30). He did that to mirror what his disciples had done to foreigners.

      Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount to refrain from name calling (Matthew 5:22), yet we idolize men who do so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        Susan, don’t you agree we need to model Jesus in our lives by keeping His commandments. Yes, we show love to all people, but we show it in the way we live through Christ.

        If we truly love people we will be like God who wants none to perish, but all to come to repentance…(2 Peter 3:9).

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      2. Yes…all His commandments.
        And if we speak out against someone regularly sinning against one commandment, shouldn’t we speak out against someone regularly sinning against another commandment?

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      3. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        That is my point, Susan. We must speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15). All I am saying is that it is our duty and privilege to carry the gospel of Christ to anyone and everyone who asks us about the Lord.

        But we must do so with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15). People need to know the truth about the Lord, but we can’t shove it down their throats! And if we are rebuked by that person, we stop “bothering” them and pray that God will guide them to His word…just sayin’

        Thanks for your thoughts as always, Susan.

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      4. Absolutely, Steve. Agree 100%.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        Thank you, Susan. Because of some of your posts and comments, I have changed the way I view a few of the others around me…thank you for that!

        Have a great weekend.

        Steve

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      6. Wow, thank you for letting me know, Steve. My words come from His Spirit, who has transformed my own heart.

        Love to you, Steve.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        And to you as my sister in the Lord, enjoy your weekend, (did I already say that?) –Steve

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  3. Amen Susan. THAT’S a GOOD word!
    Blessings.

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    1. Thanks again Mel for your encouraging words.
      Please give Maureen a hug for me. And ask her to give you one for me, too. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Will do. 🙂

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  4. Very good post and ever so important!

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    1. So important, Andy. That old proverb, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me,” has never been true. They do hurt, and eventually, they sometimes may lead to the former.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen

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    1. Thank you, Paul. I pray you are feeling well and God has sent you provision.

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      1. Thanks Susan.

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