The impeachment inquiry went viral last week when it was likened to a lynching. The tsunami of reaction has only just started to subside. Adorers of the president feel assaulted. So do his detestors. And one thing that makes this a legitimate topic for consideration on the religion page: The power of words.

Most every religious text in the world offers vital data on the importance of words. One example is enough. "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). Words create. Words destroy, too. Consider gossip, name-calling or the propaganda of tyrants. Consider also prayer, encouragement and expressions of gratitude.

For those unconvinced of the power of words, one example is enough. President Abraham Lincoln had worked on his Gettysburg speech in advance, contrary to a popular legend that he scribbled it on an envelope minutes beforehand. The day of the speech, reporters were so overtaken by the president’s oration that they forgot to take notes and just listened. Those two minutes of words are cherished to this day. As is Dr. King's speech in Washington, D.C, which he ad-libbed. Also the words of Jesus, no doubt delivered in impromptu fashion.

To the question of the proper use of words in this day and age, one example is enough. "I am a redneck, but I am not trash. Do not confuse the two." The one who wrote that stood arm in arm with others who integrated the Arkansas public schools. He wrote that as a faithful follower of Jesus, he had to be good to members of the NAACP and the KKK. And he quoted an older black woman and friend, who gave him these wise words once: "If you just love the folks what’s easy to love, that ain’t love." Put it another way? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12). The same goes for your words, too.

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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