It’s probably no surprise that I was never a cool kid. As a child I struggled with my weight, I was shy and awkward, I always knew the answer to the teacher’s question, and I sported Trax shoes. Needless to say, I was a favorite target for the old sign-on-the-back gag. It wasn’t “kick-me,” but words a little more soul destroying like “ask me why I’m so uncool?” Or worse. My only solace was the merciful, fellow-uncool kid who would take the burden from my back with full knowledge he would be next. Yes, kids can be cruel. But that is only because they are miniature sinners.
Whoever said, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” was living in total denial. You can probably recall harmful words hurled at you by some peevish child on a playground, decades ago — words which shaped your view of yourself and opened wounds which never healed. A word can break much more than skin and bone. Words have the amazing capacity to bless or to curse.
The English playwright who penned the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” was merely echoing the ancient words of Scripture when it says that God’s word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The power of words goes deep. Words are the very fibers wound into the threads which weave the fabric of the cosmos. God spoke and it came to be. Jesus is the Word, through whom, by whom and for whom all things exits. All things are upheld by the Word of God’s power.
As people created in the image of God, we know well the power of words to stir life in others or to rob them of their very selves. No wonder God tells us that we will be judged for every idle word. Like guns shot into the air, careless words make deadly wounds. The Biblical opposite of the careless word is the apt word. Solomon wrote, “an apt word is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Our word “apt” means fitting, or appropriate. It derives from a Latin word which means something that is fastened to another thing. Our words fasten on to others, like signs stuck secretly on the back. Are they words of blessing or cursing? What words are you fastening onto others?
As Paul faces death, awaiting execution in Roman dungeon, his mind turns toward his young friend Timothy. He is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith, but also the hard row he must hoe as a pastor in Ephesus. He pens a second letter, not principally to instruct, but to encourage. To fasten onto Timothy, words which embolden and strengthen – words of life and not death, words which are for us as well as we wrestle with fear, discouragement and spiritual exhaustion.
Join us this Lord’s Day, February 24, as we continue our study of 2 Timothy 1 and think about the power of the apt word. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.