I often listen to sports talk radio, partly because I love sports, and partly because I need to keep up with what is going on for Sports Spectrum. Many times it is informative and often even humorous—but it can have a darker side. The degree to which people feel free to criticize, even to the point of spewing poisonous words, can be pretty disturbing. And, often, those words come back to haunt in a variety of ways. Professional athletes have taken to Twitter and other forms of social media—but the comments they make in the heat of the moment often come back to haunt them when they are aired on Sportscenter or given wide reading on the web. Those words that seemed so casual when expressed become weapons of destruction when they ultimately land.
Few things in life are more underestimated than the power of words. Their potential to help or to harm, to build up or to tear down, to strengthen or to debilitate is almost measureless. The Bible reminds us of this several times, saying:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Col.4:6)
The apostle James came at it from the opposite perspective…
Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. (James 3:5-9)
We can use the power of words to show grace or we can use the power of words to spread poison—but one thing is certain. Our words have more power than we usually realize. We must be careful how we use them.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain