Words have meaning, but they have the ability to change things too, including people.
I Love You
What an overlooked and underappreciated set of words these are. A simple, “I love you,” can make someone’s day a bit more special. Telling your spouse and children that you love them on a daily basis is critically important because they hear it, day after day, and it becomes ingrained in their minds. It is by our actions that others learn the meaning of love, but words have meaning too; they can edify others or they can bring others down. How powerful are these three little words, “I love you,” however love is not just a greeting card or an emotion; it’s a deep-seated devotion to do what’s best for others. It is what Christ did for us (John 3:16). In dying for the enemies of God (Rom 5:10), Jesus displayed for all time, and for all to see, what “I love you” really looks like. Love is self-sacrificial. It does for others more than self, and mere words like, “I love you,” mean nothing if not done in love (1st Cor 13:1-2), so if our actions match our words, our words may change people’s disposition, so it’s not only important to be loved, but to love…and to never hesitate to say it.
Common courtesy is no long that common. In fact, if it’s uttered at all, it’s usually, “thanks,” a grunt, or a nod of the head. We rarely hear people say, “Thank you” anymore. Maybe if we were more thankful and showed thankfulness to others, then maybe others might see the value in it too. Just like a smile is contagious, so is thankfulness. It makes me feel good when someone tells me, “Thank you.” It spurs me onto to do more for others. Encouragement is a boost to anyone’s day. It can cause us to do greater things for Christ than we might normally do, which is really doing them for Christ anyway (Matt 25:40), but even in our prayers before God, we ought to be thankful, having a heart full of gratitude in life. I’m sure you can think of hundreds of things to be thankful for. Why not write some of them down and see how that list grows over time. Then, start praying over that list and giving God thanks for those many blessings.
I have been married long enough to know that forgiveness is a key to having a happy marriage. No marriage is perfect, but if we are going to learn to live in harmony with one another, we’re going to have to learn to forgive one another…and although we can’t forget the past, we ought to forget about bringing up the past. The Apostle Paul gives us a command, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). We have a saying in our church about our past; “Have the funeral. Bury the past. Don’t trip over what’s behind you.” We must learn to forgive, and that includes forgiving ourselves. Sometimes it’s easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. I don’t know why, but maybe its pride. Believe me, I still have some of that stubborn pride left in me, but failing to forgive has pride at the root of it. When we forgive others, we are humbling ourselves, and that’s good because God is directly opposed to those of a proud spirit (James 4:6).
It’s great to hear, “Thank you,” and “Would you forgive me,” but it’s also nice to hear, “You’re welcome.” Even though we don’t help people just to hear “You’re welcome,” it does seem to help because we feel like someone’s noticed our nice deed or gesture. Allowing a person to take your parking spot prompts a “Thank you,” but, “You’re welcome” makes the deed all the better. That does a lot for a person doing the good deed. It acknowledges to them that you took notice of their kind deed, and affirms your gratitude towards them. Saying “You’re welcome” can also cause people to do even more since they feel that someone’s noticed their courtesy. When we take the common courtesy of others for granted, they might not want to do them as often. Kindness is fragrant oil to a dead and decaying world, so one little word can make a huge difference, so the question is: “Why aren’t we quicker to say them?” It is by our words that people will remember us, perhaps more than our deeds.
Of course, there are other words that you know of that can bring about change. One of the most powerful words of all is the Word of God. The Apostle Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16), and elsewhere Paul writes that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1st Cor 1:18). God’s Word has the power to save, and particularly, Jesus Christ, Who is called the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). It says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:14), so thank God for that. Thank God that the Father sent the Word of God to speak the words of God to make the children of God for the glory of God. Words have meaning…they can build up or they can tear down, but words also have the ability to bring about change. Let our words bring about change that is good.