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{Lessons Learned} Overcoming Evil with Good Words

Posted on: July 12th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 3 Comments

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Jesus made it clear.

If I were to have any impact on Anthony (the man who murdered my dad), I would have to live out the commands found in Romans 12. 

Jesus spoke:

Repay no one evil for evil.

Love your enemy.

Overcome evil with good.

Yet still, the questions plagued me: How? How do I overcome evil with good? How do I love Anthony? What does it look like? 

And then it became clear. I was to love Anthony through my words.

Words hold power. 

As Jeff Goins recently wrote, “Words are powerful, painful, awful, and amazing tools. They can hurt, help, hinder, and heal.”

I wanted my words to be used for good. I wanted them to bring light to a very dark part of my past. So when I sat down to write Anthony for the first time, I chose kindness over my feelings. I felt a strong conviction that I was to treat Anthony with the respect all mankind deserves.

Now, I do have to tell you. I didn’t want to seem too nice. He was, after all, the man who killed my dad. I was not interested in becoming his friend. And I, certainly, didn’t want to “let him off the hook.”

So, I chose each word carefully, prayerfully. None of them were disrespectful. None were unkind. But with all of them, I tried my best to speak truth. I clung close to God’s Word and tried to use it to wade through the issues between Anthony and I.

I believe it was this commitment to truth that ultimately allowed both of our transformations to take place. Shortly before Jesus was killed, He prayed to the Father on our behalf and said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Ultimately it is God’s Word that brings transformation, but our words still have power. Each word we speak, each word we write has significance. [Tweet that]

This is all the more true in our broken relationships. Romans 12:18 tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all,” which means we need to work toward forgiveness and reconciliation with everyone in our lives. [Tweet that] Now, that may not be possible to achieve in every relationship, but according to God’s Word, we need to do our best to work toward that end.

And in some cases, I believe the written word may be better suited to work through the brokenness.

The Written Word vs The Spoken Word

1. The written word gives you time to process what you’d like to say.

The spoken word requires that you respond right away.

 

2. The written word allows you to edit your words.

When speaking, you cannot delete anything once you say it.

 

3. The written word gives you time to cool down before you respond.

The spoken word can lead to heated arguments.

 

4. The written word gives you time to pray and seek God in what to say and how to

say it.

The spoken word requires that you’re “on your toes” (though the Holy Spirit gives

us the words to say all the time if we simply rely upon Him and ask!).

 

5. Written correspondence can be drawn out over a long period of time, allowing you to

deal with issues slowly and allowing God to work and heal each person over time.

It seems the spoken word usually is a quicker process, potentially leaving some issues

unaddressed.

There are many advantages to using the written word when working toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, through all our words––whether written or spoken––the goal should always be to use words wisely. For without proper consideration and prayer, ill placed words can lead a relationship to ruin. 

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. – Proverbs 29:20

But conversely, we have the power to move toward healing relationships. We have the power to overcome evil. And it all begins with gracious words.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. – Proverbs 16:24

Scripture is clear. Words, certainly, wield power.

And we have a choice to make.

Will we continue to use our words without consideration of how they impact others?

Or will we choose to bless others, reconcile relationships, and overcome evil with our well-thought out, prayerfully-considered, good words?

Who knows? Choosing our words wisely may, in fact, change the course of someone’s life. [Tweet that]

What are 5-10 words––either spoken by you or to you––that effectively changed the course of your life? Share in the comments

To read a great post on the power of spoken words, read The Revolutionary Power of Words by Jeff Goins.

  • Pingback: Lessons Learned Through Forgiving My Dad's Murderer()

  • Mark Allman

    Laurie,

    You are so right the written word is so powerful. It can be read again and again. It can be stored away to read again later. Something that can be experienced like that does have power. The power is in it’s life. Words on paper live on. It can impact each time it is read; good or bad. Because the written word has this power and because it lasts we need to be so careful of what we put down on paper. It is even more important if what we write has the markings of controversy.

    I have cautioned my children in life that just because someone asks them a question they are not obligated to answer it right away or at all. We feel pressure to respond when someone engages us but it is important to measure our response if we choose to give one. We can politely decline to be engaged. I also encouraged my children to make sure they know the question before they respond as well. You might need to asks questions before you give an reply. (This became clear to my daughter one time when she came downstairs and I turned to her and said “well” and she jumped right in before I completed my question and said “it aint on, it itches, momma’s gonna wash it”. From the look on my face she knew I had no idea what she was talking about until she hid behind her mom shyly. She had just gotten her first bra! She learned that lesson that day 🙂 )

    It is wise to not send written words right after you have written them if they are written when you were angry or upset. It is best to wait a day before you send them or run them by someone else.

    I also believe the written word has so much power to encourage as well. I think we can be great encouragers by writing people notes and letters. A lost art I believe.

    • I love how you said, “Words on paper live on.” In many ways, the written word is a lost art, indeed!

      And what a great story about your daughter. Made me chuckle.

      Thank you for your response and your insight, Mark!