The Power of One Word

“… Words are powerful; take them seriously …” (Matt. 12:36 MSG).

I noticed a small typo within a comment that I had posted on a friend’s blog. Instead of the word “power,” I had typed “poser.”

A minor mistake? Not for a writer! And especially not in this case!

My tiny error distorted the entire significance of this scripture: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV).

One word shifted my focus and the potential attention of my readers. All I could see was my mistake. I lost sight of the message and power of God’s Word. And my readers may have missed the entire point of my comment.

How many times do we let one word spoil things for us? We speak a single word of profanity in the heat of an argument. Or we whisper a little white lie as we try to cover up a mistake. We often regret the unexpected consequences that result from our words. One negative comment or careless thought voiced in frustration or anger can blind us from seeing God’s blessings in a situation.

As a writer, I cringe when I discover one insignificant word choice that turns a powerful point into a grammatical disaster. And I wince when I read an offensive term that will repel an audience of would-be readers.

As a writing instructor, I notice many writers resisting the editing process. They focus on the goal of finishing their writing task, instead of fine-tuning their grammar and mechanics. They get offended if anyone calls attention to one tiny mistake or unclear point, or someone suggests meaningful change. Then, they get angry or depressed when they receive a lower grade for their work, or the piece is rejected for publication.

As a Christian, I’ve also experienced the power of God’s Word. One word of encouragement can pull me out of the deepest pit of despair. A single promise from God’s Word can offer hope to me, when my circumstances seem overwhelming. My simple confession of faith can produce peace in my heart and mind “which exceeds anything (I) can understand.” (Phil. 4:7 NLT).

So, does one word matter? God’s Word answers this question. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).


Have you experienced the power of one word?

17 Replies to “The Power of One Word”

  1. Terrific post, Karen! You have clearly illustrated the need for writers to be meticulous about what we write and the need for people to be careful about what we say, and you have linked this seamlessly with the importance of hearing, reading, and understanding the Word of God.

    1. Thanks, Robin. That’s a powerful truth that I hope I never forget. Sure I wish I could edit some of the things I’ve said to the people I love the most!

  2. I’ve experienced the power of wounding words and healing words. Sadly, I’ve delivered my share of wounds, although I hope I’ve healed with a few as well.

    Those life experiences absolutely make me cautious as a writer, and remind me of the responsibility I carry while offering my meager words on the page.

    1. That’s why I have a struggle with blogging at times–I often don’t see my errors, until I’ve already posted my words. And at times, I don’t realize I’ve said the wrong thing, until it’s too late. Thanks for your comment, AnitaFreshFaith!

  3. Hi Karen! I’ve experienced the power of a word when it focusses on a virtue God wants in my life. For example, the word “trust.” Sometimes just thinking about trust, (with my heart leaning toward Jesus, of course) gives my soul an adjustment. A word that relaxes me is “Sovereignty.” Just saying it gives perspective sometimes. And of course, there’s “thank you”. I’m always reminding my boys about the power of that one.

    So “thank you” for this post! : )

    1. My pleasure, Cheryl. I love connecting with other writers online; I learn so much from you all. I hope to write about the “one word” that I’m focusing on in 2013 soon. Thanks for the reminder … maybe for my February post.

    1. HI jumbledwriter! What a great name! I love your explanation of your name, “writer with a jumbled mind trying to figure out things.” I think that describes a lot of us. Thanks so much for your encouraging words.

  4. One word can absolutely make a difference. After one Word, the Word made flesh made all the difference in our lives.

    1. I agree, Larry! I continue to be amazed at the power of the Word! And here’s a good Word for all faith writers: “Write down for the coming generation what the LORD has done, so that people not yet born will praise him” (Psalm 102:18 GNT).

  5. Thank you, Karen, for leading us to the power of words found in Matt. 12:36.

    Just the other day, a friend said, “I love the word refreshment. Saying the word makes me feel refreshed.” My friend continued to share that she receives “refreshment” from Christ.

    Words certainly contain emotional components.

    I look forwarding to reading more of your posts. I also enjoyed reading the thoughtful comments from your readers.

    By the way, I have made (likely many) unintended typographical errors. Upon discovery, my heart sinks. However, I remind myself that I’m far from perfect.

    Heather Villa

    1. Heather, it just takes a quick glance in the mirror to remind myself of my imperfections. And it’s hard for me to quit editing myself, too. So, I know that I’ll never attain perfection in this life. But I’m also aware of the importance of every word that I say, and I have battle scars to prove my point. Thanks so much for your comment!

  6. I made the mistake of blogging about my son’s “fiend” instead of “friend”…it changed the whole message of the post! Fortunately, a kind reader pointed it out and I changed it before too many people saw my error…

    1. I did the same thing! A LONG time ago (before we all used computers), I worked as a secretary for an agency of our religious denomination, and I typed a lot (hundreds, maybe thousands) of “thank you” letters to our contributors. I can’t tell you how many times I typed “Dear Fiend,” instead of “Dear Friend”! And I don’t know how many I didn’t catch; I still shutter to think about it. [Ugh!] Hopefully, the “friends” of our organization didn’t notice or at least forgave my error!

      Again, thanks for another powerful reminder of the importance of proofreading–even (or especially) if you have to type the same thing a million times!

  7. I do agree with all you have written on how words could be so powerful. i live my life so conscious of this truth that our words are self fulfilling in nature. And so am careful of my choice of words.

    1. Yes, a good point – our words can become self-fulfilling. Often I lose sight of the power of my praise and my criticism, especially my own self-talk. I learned that truth the hard way with my own children and in some other relationships. In fact, I’ve even been hurt by my own negative thoughts–and I’m even more tempted to believe them if I speak them out loud or write them down. Thanks for that reminder!

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