Words are important. In the Bible, God is the Word which is different from saying that God speaks the word. God is not only the intention and thought put forth in language that both creates and destroys, God is Word itself.
The first chapter of John’s Gospel is poetic in it’s description of The Word becoming flesh in Jesus:
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
The thoughts and intentions of humanity are not always in synch with this Word that is sacred and divine. The writer of James captures this well in chapter 3 of that letter: “7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.”
Words matter. It is painful to see world leaders sling around words filled with potentially grave consequences as though they were nothing. It is painful when barbed words meant to hurt are flung at us. It is painful when, in moments of frustration and anger, we inflict on others words that will surely bring regret.
In this new year, I invite you to consider your words. What words you choose and why. What words you listen to that either bring peace in your heart or angst in your life. We steep ourselves by the daily choices we make and the influences we surround ourselves with (Annie Dillard once wrote, “the way we spend our days is of course the way we spend our lives”).
This means that if you desire to deepen your spiritual life (or maybe to look into it more if you are curious), you will need to make time and daily choices to do so. You will need to repeatedly surround yourself with Word, community, song, prayer, the breaking of bread, service unto others. If you are hoping for instant gratification, you will be disappointed. But if you are hoping for change and can be patient, transformation and a deepening will happen.