“Let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.”
Day Thirteen of Lent: Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent – Jeremiah 18
“Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word” -Jeremiah 18:18.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Remember that old saying from the playground? As soon as you grew beyond hopscotch and dodgeball, you probably realized quickly however that words actually do have power. Real power. So much power in fact that the Bible states: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Words both spoken and withheld have the ability to cause damage in a person’s life. The Bible lays this out in no uncertain terms.
In today’s reading from Jeremiah, we see an angry throng of people looking to take Jeremiah’s truthful words and use them against him. This is perhaps one of the worst ways in which words can be weaponized; taking things out of context and twisting them to suit another’s agenda. There’s a new word for that nowadays: being gaslit. This method of communication is destructive to people on both sides of the aisle. First, both persons suffer loss – they both end up losing one another. Second, the innocent party feels humiliated and slandered; while the guilty party awaits God’s wrath. In the end, everyone loses. Such is the power of words used unwell.
An example of words having power in the Gospel was when the disciples (and their mother) argued over which one of them would have the best position in Heaven. The words were spoken quickly and without real thought which led the disciples down a path of not fully understanding. They were not able to discern the weight of what they were asking for nor capable of hearing the warning of their Savior. In the end, the apostles did find out when they (too) were made to suffer for being followers of Christ.
Yes, words do matter. A lot. Jesus Christ Himself was the Word made flesh, indicating just how powerful they are. Words are especially powerful when they are divinely inspired. But everyday, ordinary words amongst people, especially in relationships, are also powerful because they have the power to either lift or tear down. Therefore, we are wise to heed the warnings in the Bible about using our words carefully and with love.
Day 13 Lenten Meditation
Here are three important things to ask yourself before you speak: Is what I am about to say true, kind, and necessary? How often do we say things that even if true, are not kind or necessary? While this rule of thumb may feel challenging to keep, it’s more than a worthwhile goal and code of conduct to live by. The next time you think about saying something that could potentially hurt or negatively affect someone else, take a moment to think about it. Ask yourself: What would Jesus do? Performing a simple examination of conscience such as this will help you to stay rooted in the will and way of God every moment of the day.
Father, we come to You today knowing that far too often we focus on temporal words rather than Your Word. May this be our newfound starting point today. Help us to guard our mouths and our actions, using them only to edify and lift others higher. During times of persecution and sorrow, give us the grace to remain in gratitude with our words; to hear Your Truth and profess only Your goodness. It is You, Lord, we cling to for strength and vindication. In Your good and holy Name we pray, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Serve someone in love today by lifting them up with every word you speak.
“The closer we are to the Shepherd, the safer we are from the wolves” –Jarred Wilson.
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