Friday, June 20, 2014

Power of Words

Power of Words

Have you heard the saying, “Sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me?” I grew up thinking this was true. Until….

Recently I had a firsthand experience as to how wrong, and perhaps even damaging this old saying could be. Later, I’ll tell you what the biblical perspective is on this.

After my young adult thriller, Dead Dreams, Book 1, hit number one on Kindle, the book received some great reviews and a few very damaging ones. Unfortunately, it didn’t end here. Because book 1, (which was clearly stated in the cover and inside title page) ended with a cliff hanger, a reader, who got the book for free during a short promotion, actually found my email address and wrote me a nasty letter saying I was a cheat, coercing her to buy book 2!

Naturally, I was upset. (Hey, I’m human, even if I’ve been redeemed.) Worse, I felt so hurt that my work of fiction which was supposed to provide entertainment and some measure of lesson for young adults, could arouse such hatred toward me that I became fearful. This episode paralyzed me so much that I became afraid to open emails I received from my website—even until today. For three months I could hardly put pen to paper to continue writing book 2. You might think I was being immature, and you are probably right. Grow up, right? But words are powerful. Even those from a stranger. It was a reminder for me not to speak ill and tear others down, as in Ephesians 4:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 

Since words can have the power to build, and to tear down is it any wonder, too, that God chose to share his works of creation and redemption to mankind through words, and not, say, a movie? (After all, God could have waited another two to three thousand years—oh, no! --and have the redemption story written, or rather, displayed through the big screen. So, why did God not “show” us the Word as opposed to giving it to us through the written form? I believe one reason is because of the precision of words. (This ties in with my last blog, titled, Gawd! Using the Lord’s Name, and about why the Bible said not one jot nor one tittle will pass away.) After all, God spoke, “Let there be light,” and the universe and the world came into being. Jesus is called the Word that became flesh.

But, you might argue, but yes, Emma, these instances referred to God, and Jesus. How about man’s words? Well, how about the words of a false prophet?

Have you read about the prophet Balaam who was commanded by King Balak to curse the Israelites? (Numbers 22) Balam was supposed to pronounce evil on the Israelites as a last ditch effort by King Balak to defeat the Jews, since every tactic he tried upon them had failed. As the story went, Balam was commanded by God to only pronounce blessings on the Israelites, so when Balam tried to say the curses, only words of good fortune came out of his lips. Do you ever wonder why God even bothered to do this? Change the utterances of Balam? Balam was not even a Jew, let alone a believer. Who cared what some heathen person who called himself a prophet said, right? Well, God apparently did. (Numbers 23:5.) So, why did it matter? Could it be because words have power in and of themselves?

Let’s take the story of Zecharias and how the angel announced to him the birth of his son, and how the angel shut his mouth up until his son, John (the Baptist) was born. Was it to punish Zecharias for unbelief, or is there something more to the story? Read the account again, (Luke 1:8-23) and I will touch on it next time as it would fall nicely in line with our study of words.

I hope in the following weeks as we learn together about the strength of words that we can come to some understanding. An understanding of the power of words that will not only help you in your spiritual life but that can have some benefits to bless you in this journey called Life.

God said in the Bible that His Words would never come back empty. (Isaiah 55:11) I am sure a study of His Word will bear much fruit.


  1. Great encouragement here, Emma! Your example of the negative response from the reviewer and their contact with you brought back some painful memories for me, but ones that have had a good outcome. I can relate to the reviewer's attitude, having similar years ago, when I was younger and less wise and mature in my outlook towards encouraging authors and readers in my reviews. Let me explain.

    I reviewed a Chrstian novel by a debut author. Spiritual warfare, eschatology, angels and demons. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, but there was one biblical doctrine that he pushed the envelope too far to be convincing with. In my review, I went for it and was very critical and judgemental of him and his work based on this issue. I did not even consider that this would have a devastating effect on him. I presumed he would take this in his stride as if being an author he suddenly had the strongest hide. I also had the attitude (arrogant and immature on my part) that I had the right as a reader and reviewer, to state whatever I wanted about his novel to whatever degree.

    This author contacted me and asked me to explain why I was so critical and judgemental. He also explained the effect my review and attitude had on him. Now it was my time to be devastated as the full impact and knowledge of what I had done hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I was very convicted by God and I apologised sincerely. I deleted my review from Amazon and other social media. We actually became friends after this.

    I learnt a valuable lesson form this. Since then, and especially since starting my review blog (, and from advice from author Mike Dellosso, I can now highlight issues I struggle with in a novel in an encouraging way that still upholds and encourages the author and their work.

    How his has come full circle is that I am now an advocate for promoting, encouraging authors and supporting reviewers. I have posted a few times where necessary and appropriate, how readers when they critically review or attack an author how this affects the author and how this also does not positive to them as readers/reviewers. I try to encourage and enable them to see that reader/reviewers are an author's best asset. It has gotten a few readers who have been rather negative and critical of authors to reconsider their attitude.

    When you wrote of your experience in this article, I really did feel for you as I know what this reviewer's attitude and behaviour did to you and it really does expound the effect of what our words have on each other and why, as you have explained in your article above, why we need to be careful how and what we say to each other and why God places so much importance on this.

    I pray this has a profound effect on many readers and encourages others to rethink their attitude and behaviour.

    Thanks for posting this. It has further encouraged me and reinforced that I am on the right track!!


  2. Hey, Peter, Thanks for your comments and your ministry in encouraging authors.