Today’s Reading: Matthew 12
While I am writing today’s devotional, a television show about Jack Ryan, the fictional CIA analyst, is trending online. Some knew him as Harrison Ford; for others, he was Chris Pine; and for us old folks, we knew him as Alec Baldwin. Jack Ryan is Tom Clancy’s creation. And those actors portrayed him in the movie versions of Clancy’s thriller books, such as The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, Without Remorse. His works are always very thick, about five hundred to seven hundred pages long. There are a half million to three-quarter million words in an average Tom Clancy novel.
How long would it take you to say as many words as he writes in one of his books? According to researchers, people open their mouths an average of seven hundred times in a day. In those seven hundred times, you will use an average of eighteen thousand words a day. Those eighteen thousand words translate to about fifty-four printed pages. That means that in one year, an average person would fill . . . sixty-six books of eight hundred pages each. Every year you write with your words sixty-six volumes that are larger than those Tom Clancy novels.
That’s a lot of words! And what makes it even more impressive is that each of those words matter.
Why do those eighteen thousand words each day matter? We find the answer in the Old Testament book of Proverbs: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21). Another version says it like this: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (MSG).
That’s why we take our eighteen thousand really seriously.
So here’s the question: What is your life-and-death ratio on your eighteen thousand? Is it that big of a deal? Let’s see what Jesus said about it in today’s reading:
For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
You and I will be held accountable for every careless word we speak, so yes, we definitely need to take our eighteen thousand seriously. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? God thinks our words are so important and can make such a difference in someone’s life that he holds us accountable for them.
Proverbs 12:25 tells us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” So here’s a challenge for you: give someone a good word today.
Text it, say it, write it. But choose your words to bring life.
Recently my family and I were traveling. As we sat together on the long flight, I watched my youngest daughter write a five-sentence note of thanks to the flight attendant. My daughter wanted to give life with her words.
One good word can change anxiety into gladness. Your words have that capability. Do something useful with your eighteen thousand today.