This week I am going back to where it all started, Imago Dei. If you have seen the Latin titles and do not really understood what they mean, let me explain it to you. I preached a sermon on Imago Dei a couple of years ago and it had a great impact on me. I found myself using it practically in my life on a regular basis. If someone cut me off driving or I got cussed out at church (believe it or not, it happens often at Under Over Fellowship), I found myself saying, “Imago Dei.” This was a reminder to myself that this person, in spite of their behavior, was made in the Image of God and I needed to treat them as such. This was so powerful in my life, I found myself asking, “What other principles can I put into action to put legs on my faith and discipleship?” And not only that, “Can I develop it in such a way that I can teach it to others?” So that is where I am. I have four weeks to go on my current writing project, but I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning so readers would have a better understanding where I am coming from. I will be posting all six days of Imago Dei this week, and then plan to return with new material next week.
PART FOUR OF SIX
There is power in Imago Dei in the way we talk to people.
I have a short story I want to share about the influence of what we say to people and the power of our words:
“A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, the rest of the dismayed group agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead. Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless, and that the two frogs wouldn’t be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead. The two frogs continued jumping as hard as they could, and after several hours of desperate effort were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellows. Spent and disheartened, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died as the others looked on in helpless grief. The other frog continued to jump with every ounce of energy he had, although his body was wracked with pain and he was completely exhausted. His companions began anew, yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and — wonder of wonders! Finally leapt so high that he sprang from the pit. Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his miraculous freedom and then gathering around him asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?” Reading their lips, the astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and that when he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds. This simple story contains a powerful lesson. There is life and death in the power of the tongue. Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone’s desire to continue trying. Speak life to (and about) those who cross your path. There is enormous power in words. If you have words of kindness, praise or encouragement — speak them now to, and about, others. Listen to your heart and respond. Someone, somewhere, is waiting for your words (cybersalt.org/illustrations/the-power-of-your-words).”
We need to be encouragers and watch what we say as our words have much power. For years now, I try to read the Proverbs on a daily basis. There are 31 Proverbs, so whatever date it is, I try to read that Proverb during my quiet time. For instance, today is April 16, so I read Proverbs 16 this morning. A recurring theme and one of the greatest traits of wisdom is to know how to bridle our tongue. What we learned as children, we should practice as adults, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
If we see the people we meet and talk to as made in the Image of God, it changes the way we speak to people. Or at least allows us to keep our lip buttoned sometimes! The next time you lash out at your spouse or children, or even a stranger on the street, I want you to ask yourself, “If he or she were Jesus, would I have said that?”
We have to remember that there is power in Imago Dei in the way we speak to people.
Just for today, meditate on this truth.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Five…..