Words bombard us. They also can have a great deal of power in our lives. They can encourage us, but they can also disappoint us when they are not affirming or absent when we long for affirmation. They can challenge us to try new things, to consider new ideas or thoughts, and discover possibilities, but they can also bore us to tears when we hope for a new or broader vision.
I have always loved words. I love what I learn or discover through reading a book, listening to the lyrics of a song, hearing the dialogue in a movie or play, or discovering more about the person I am listening to.
And for those of you familiar with Gary Chapman’s book on “love languages”, yes, affirming words is one of my primary love languages along with quality time. But I am not primarily interested in the words themselves, but rather the heart and soul of the one who has written or spoken them.
We must spend a great deal of time listening to the words spoken by or written by another person to become acquainted with the depths of their heart.
When we do that, we also begin to learn whether or not the person is trustworthy, if we can count on them, if they are a safe person with whom we can share our own heart and intimate thoughts.
The trick is that many people are very skilled at words. Words seem to come easily for them and as they openly share, we can be tempted to quickly believe and trust them. Sometimes that proves to be true, but not always. Sometimes we are eager to believe them because they are saying what we hope, want, or need to hear. Sometimes they sound so self-assured and confident that we are certain they know far more than we do, so we give them our trust more easily than we always should.
Some of us can be skeptical about words because we have been tricked by them. Some of us tune out because we are bombarded by them from every direction. Ads and commercials reach out to us from every form of media wanting us to buy this or try that, choose this candidate or choose that one, go to this destination or that one.
I get that.
There are times I love sitting in my house when I am home alone with no music or sound at all just enjoying the quiet, resting my ears, heart, mind, and spirit even when I am not specifically spending time with the Lord in His Word or journaling.
The key thing I have learned about whether or not to trust the words I am hearing is one basic truth.
If the words of the person do not match the behavior of the person, the behavior tells me more about their heart than their words.
Words can be said quickly or over time. They can be used to persuade, challenge, rebuke, or encourage us, but they can also seduce us to believe without question what we hear.
The decision to trust or not to trust is an important one that we face every moment of every day.
Words and actions need to match if we are to risk trusting them. We should be cautious and discerning, but not suspicious and closed. We cannot fall prey to closing off our hearts and hardening them.
As we listen, observe, and seek the Lord’s counsel over time, we grow in our ability to trust or not to trust.
The best example of trustworthiness where words and actions match is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ and He is 100 percent trustworthy.