Words as Weapons

Words as Weapons

If, in fighting the good fight, we begin to look like the world in our use of words—if we become saltless salt and lightless light—what purpose do we have in the kingdom? We may be fighting for Christ but not have the spirit of Christ.

Words are weapons. They are either weapons used in the service of God and His kingdom—weapons that are brandished in love for God and our neighbor—or they are weapons used in the service of the kingdom of this fallen and sinful world—weapons wielded in love of self and hatred of God and neighbor. This is simply the reality of what words are. In our current context, this reality powerfully confronts us, and we struggle with how to wield our words. We live in the middle of a swirling vortex of political conflict, social unrest, clashing values systems, a culture war, and a global pandemic, and the power of words as weapons through social media has been exponentially increased. Through the means of various forms of social media, words as weapons are used to mobilize, encourage, scare, advocate, anger, inform, judge, punish, reward, lament, and rejoice, and all on a massive scale and with dizzying speed. How do we navigate through this daunting and sometimes overwhelming reality, and how do we ourselves wield a weapon like this that is powerful and so easily and readily available?

The ninth commandment (Ex. 20:16Deut. 5:20) speaks into this reality and shows us the way forward, and it shows us the gospel for life. It says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is courtroom language, where one can serve as a witness who brings testimony that is false and brings harm and even death to another person. The commandment is stated negatively (what God calls us not to do) but it can also be stated positively (what God wants us to do). Throughout Scripture, God calls us to protect, build up, restore, and heal others with our words. Read through Proverbs (especially chs.12–14) to see how words are to bring life and not death, to be used by the wise in contrast to their use by the fool. Our words are to be gracious, seasoned with salt (Col. 4:5–6); they are to be truth and they are to build up, as fits the occasion, that they may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:25–32).

The way we use our words reveals our hearts, it reveals the kingdom values that govern us, and it reveals the principle of life that animates us and forms and directs our hearts. A saltwater spring or a freshwater spring, a good tree or a bad tree, a heart that is earthly or fleshly—operating according to the principles and practices of fallen Adam—or a heart that is heavenly and spiritual—redeemed in Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit and operating by the principles and practices of the new life we have in Jesus Christ.

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