Language: Blessing or Cursing?

Language: Dangerous and wicked. Supportive and uplifting.

Your words can be dangerous and wicked or supportive and uplifting. Choose wisely! Click To Tweet

Language Definition and Use

By definition, language is the “words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition). It is one of the most important attributes humans possess, separating us from animals and allowing us to work together, solve problems, and express our views.

Language is a means to learn, to build community. However, language can also be very destructive.

According to the Book of Genesis, man was created with the ability for language. We are told that in the Garden of Eden, Adam used words to name each living creature.

Adam and Eve even spoke with God. Unfortunately, they also were able to communicate with the serpent, which didn’t turn out so well.

There are an astounding number of words in the English language. Most of us use only a tiny fraction.

My son and I enjoyed playing with words the other day, creating sentences using a loose form of alliteration (words beginning with or incorporating a single letter). a alliteration

Complexity of Language

As I searched for just the right words, I was struck with the prominence of communication in human history.

Our cultures would look vastly different without the spoken and written word.

The complexity of languages both amazes and frustrates me. Rich meaning can be derived from a few words, or we can say little with many.

Grammatical patterns are at times simple but more often complicated. The same words can have different meanings based just on the tone of deliverance.

I doubt I’m the only one who has been upset with a spouse’s or child’s “tone” even though the words themselves were neutral. And how many times has my deliverance belittled them?

Language is Powerful

God knew language would be a powerful means of blessing or cursing. He knew its potency and acknowledged it could (and would) be used to further separate us from Him.

Curse of Language

In part, this is why he created many separate languages during the building of the Tower of Babylon (more commonly referred to as the Tower of Babel [Genesis 11:1-9]).

It is no wonder that many Scripture verses warn us about the tongue’s potential for destruction. In fact, the entire third chapter of James is devoted to the importance of taming it:

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:8–10, NASB).

Blessing of Language

However, the Lord also encourages us in language’s ability to make a difference in someone’s life:

“Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy” (Proverbs 31:8–10).

And He extols us to use words for praise and thanksgiving and to commune with Him:

“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name” (Psalm 66:1–2a).

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever” (Psalms 107:1).

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13).

A Weighty Responsibility

God bestowed us with an incredible blessing in language. He also anointed us with a weighty responsibility. 

God bestowed us with an incredible blessing in language. He also anointed us with a weighty responsibility. Click To Tweet

We can have fun with words. We can use language to beseech God, form community, ask for help, and build others up. However, perhaps more easily, we can use words to destroy.

As the Lord’s ministers here on earth, we have an obligation to steward this gift wisely—to let the power of the word project the love and truth of Christ. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do just that.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26).

Reflections: Has language profoundly impacted your life in some way? Have you cultivated a life of lifting others up with your words? Do you have encouragement to offer for times when our tongues drip curses instead of blessings?

By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

2 comments on “Language: Blessing or Cursing?
  1. Jan Heitshusen says:

    LOVE the alliteration! Great job as usual!

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