What's In a Word?

Do words really matter? Does the true meaning of words really matter? Does it matter how we use words, when we say them, and to whom we attribute them?

The Holy Spirit of God inspired King David to write:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
~ Psalm 19:14

Our Savior Jesus Christ, when He was here, said:

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
~ Matthew 12:36-37

It is apparent that according to God, words are very important; how we use them, what we mean by them, when we say them and to whom we attribute them. After all, it is also written in Scripture through the Apostle John that:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

Jesus Himself is the Word of God. God chose to reveal Himself to us through His Word; through His spoken and written word. Through God's word (the holy Scriptures), the Holy Spirit leads us into understanding the deep mysteries of God that the world cannot understand or fathom.

"But, as it is written,

'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him' --

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."
~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-14

So why then as Christians are we not more careful about our words? Why are we not more considerate about how we use them, when we say them, what we actually mean by them and to whom we attribute them? I believe it is for various reasons we are all familiar with - yours truly included. Most of which, is that we're just not really paying close attention to our words or the attitude of our hearts when we speak.

We'll only take a look at two (2) most commonly misused words in the English language amongst Christians and unbelievers alike:


Personally, I know I have misused words often because I'm excited, or want to express that excitement to others. For example, prior to about 6 years ago, I used to use the word "AWESOME" all the time. I would use this word to describe my elation or simple enjoyment from something or someone. If I liked a person and really enjoyed my time with them, I would say, "Oh, you're so AWESOME!". If I liked something they did or said, or wanted to share a particular experience I had that I truly enjoyed, I'd say, "Wow, that was AWESOME!".

I stopped using this word, except to attribute it to God, or the things of God, the day a precious sister kindly rebuked me when I told her I thought her teaching was "AWESOME!". She gently said to me, "Sunny, I thank you for your encouragement. But I assure you that neither my teaching nor anything about me is AWESOME." I argued with her and tried to share with her why I was right. She patiently listened, then said, "Sunny, do you really understand what "awesome" means?" I told her, "Not really. I hadn't ever really thought about it." But I took a stab at it anyway and said, "Does it mean exceptional or really wonderful?" She lovingly said, "No. The word awesome means, 'to inspire awe'. So then we have to look at the definition of the word "awe". Awe means, 'an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like'. So, Sunny, let me ask you another question. Do you agree with me that by the true definition of this word, only God and His magnificent works is truly worthy of being called awesome? I mean, is there anything or anyone in this world that you have every truly felt was so grand, so wonderful, so magnificent that you were in awe of them or what they had done? Because if that's the case, then we have another problem to discuss." I had to concede, she was right and I was wrong.

God alone is awesome. God alone causes me to stand in awe, breathless, and totally overwhelmed by His grandeur.

I shared this wonderful truth with my family, and since that day, none of us ever apply or attribute the word "AWESOME" to anything or anyone except God and His wondrous works.

All throughout Scripture, the only time God applies the word "awesome", He uses it only as an attribute of Himself or to describe His magnificent works. Therefore, as His children, why should we carelessly use this word to describe anyone or anything else except God?


I've often used this word to mean "nice". But the LORD our God has been so gracious to reveal to me that the words "nice" and "GOOD" do not mean the same thing.

nice adj. - pleasing; agreeable; delightful

good adj. - morally excellent or perfect; virtuous; righteous; pious

With understanding the true definitions of the words "good" and "nice" I realized I could no longer use them interchangeably and, I perceived better why my Lord Jesus said,

"Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."
~ Luke 18:19

It always perplexed me that Jesus said that; being that He IS God, why did He question the man who called Him "good"? I never understood fully, until I accurately understood what "good" meant.

When I finally grasped the true meaning of this overly misused word, I finally understood why Jesus thought it very important to first clarify this man's definition of the word "good" before He continued to speak with him. Jesus wanted to make sure that the man who called Him "good" was attributing this word to Him only because this man recognized Jesus to be God, and not merely a "nice" man or for the sake of flattery.

Anytime God stops the flow of a conversation (or even a listing of genealogy to clarify something, i.e., Genesis 5:22) it is always "good" to pray, ask and listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads you into all truth (John 14:26); so that we might understand and know Him more, in order to love Him better.

From this wonderful teaching of the Holy Spirit, I began to only use the word "good' when speaking of God or the things of God. Therefore, I've taught my sons:

"Anything absent of God, is absent of good; since God alone is good.

Till this day, I still ask my sons, "Did you have a 'good' day or 'nice' day?" And they know exactly what I mean. :-)

Things to consider:

  1. Have you ever used the words "awesome" and "good" inaccurately? If so, will you every do it again?
  2. Are there any other words you've regularly use that you're convicted should only be attributed to God or the things of God? If so, please share.
  3. How has God's Holy Spirit convicted you today from this article and what will you do about it today?

"Thus says the LORD:

Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understand and knows me, that I AM the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

~ Jeremiah 9:23-24