The Power of Words

Week Thirty-Six: Proverbs 1–4; 15–16; 22; 31; Ecclesiastes 1–3; 11–12

Reading Proverbs reminds me of having Sunday dinner with my grandparents. As a young college student, I lived near my grandparents for the first time in my life. I enjoyed going to their home for Sunday dinner and speaking to them about the gospel and learning from them. They always had words of wisdom to share with me. Proverbs is similar to my Sunday dinners with my grandparents. It is a book of scripture filled with words of wisdom of truth for us to learn from.

In Proverbs 15, there is an entire chapter on the power of our words and how our words affect others. As a mother of many children, I saw this often in our home. The words of each member of the family, including my own, affected the spirit in our home. I began to notice that when we would gather around the dinner table to eat dinner, everyone talked about their day in a negative way, describing all the frustrations they had to deal with. We left the dinner table feeling depressed and not looking forward to the next day. So, we started a new tradition. At the dinner table, each person had to say one happy thing that happened to them that day. The comment “nothing happy happened to me today” was not allowed. Changing our words at dinner made a big difference in the tenor and feel in our home. Everyone started looking for that one happy thing they could share about at the end of the day with the family.

In Proverbs, we learn ways to make our words a positive force in our lives and the lives of others.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath….”[i]

“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge”[ii]

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life”[iii]

“He that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”[iv]

But with each of these positive statements, the writer warns us of the negative impact our words can have:

“Grievous words stir up anger.”[v]

“A fool despiseth his father’s instruction.”[vi]

“By sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken”[vii]

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife”[viii]

We get to decide the words we speak. That choice affects us as much as it does the people around us. Elder Holland reminded us: “Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity…. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.”[ix]

We must be humble enough to accept instruction from the Lord and listen to Him when he tells us to change our words. Are our words full of faith, hope, and charity? If not, we might want to ask the Lord humbly how to change our words so that they are more like His words. If we do, the Lord will direct us for He is “the Word.”

The end of Proverbs 15 counseled us: “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.”[x]

May you find joy in the Lord this week as you humbly seek to change your words to be words full of faith, hope, and charity.

[i] Proverbs 15:1

[ii] Proverbs 15:7

[iii] Proverbs 15:4

[iv] Proverbs 15:18

[v] Proverbs 15:1

[vi] Proverbs 15:5

[vii] Proverbs 15:13

[viii] Proverbs 15:18


[x] Proverbs 15:32-33

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