empty words

Words are powerful. Words are also cheap. Most of us have probably had the experience of running into someone we know at Target. After a brief conversation, the interaction ends with “We should totally get together sometime.” Both parties know it will not happen. We know that the words are said to reduce awkwardness in the moment, not to make an actual promise. The words are empty.

Empty words are prevalent in our culture and in our lives. I use empty words more often than I would like to admit. My filter just doesn’t kick in on time. I know I have used them as soon as the words are out of my mouth, but then it’s too late. I hear myself say things like “Let’s get together sometime” or “I will pray for you” and I know that often, those words will not be supported. My desire to sound good in the moment wins out over my will to live authentically in the long run.

I read a blog post this week reflecting on the memorial events of September 11. And the frequency we heard and saw the words “we remember” or “never forget.” Those words are good. We should remember. But do we? Or are they just vacant sentiments? The author of the post writes,

“I can’t hear the words ‘Never forget’, without having a guteral reaction; wanting to scream out to all who will hear… ‘What good is remembering if we no longer love?!’”

The author’s reflections are a challenge for the country and the church to live differently. Please take a moment to read What we have forgotten.

Christians have a history of empty words. Many of us go to church on Sundays, say words about God’s love, but then fail to let that love transform the way we live during the week.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17

I pray that my faith and words will be alive with action.