Most of us have at one time or another enjoyed reading the comics. Someone might ask, “Read them? I thought comic strips were cartoons, drawings. How can you read them?” In most comic strips I’m familiar with the words of the cartoon character are written in a “balloon” above their head. That’s how we can “read” the comics.
Real people don’t have words floating above their heads. But the concept of word clouds shows that maybe we do.
Wikipedia refers to these as “tag clouds”, designed to show a “weighted list” of the words we most frequently use in a given message. For example, I used one web site to create a word cloud from my most recent LightGrams article. Not surprisingly, the largest word in that cloud was “light”, which was the theme of that article.
What word(s) did we use most in that report? How will others see the letter I spent hours composing? A word cloud can give insights into your writing style.
There is a sense in which all the words we speak on a given day (or lifetime) are hovering above us in a cloud. Jesus alluded to that concept in Matthew 12:36: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” Do our words matter? We may laughingly dismiss the idea, but Jesus sure didn’t. He warns us to be careful what we say.
Here’s another passage that helps us visualize the word cloud that follows us: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Does my speech suggest to others that I am a dedicated Christian? Or do the words that flow out of my mouth (hover above me in my word cloud) suggest otherwise?
Words are powerful. With them we can inflict great damage on another, or we can administer comfort and peace. We may proclaim to others that we are followers of Jesus, but do the words we regularly use in conversation back up such a claim? Our word clouds follow us.
When Jesus was arrested and led to the house of the high priest, the eyes of many turned to Peter who was standing in the shadows. Out of his fear he denied even knowing Jesus. “And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you'” (Matthew 26:73).
Yes, our speech will often reveal us for who we really are. It takes diligence to keep the word cloud above us pure and loving. Our speech will absolutely betray us.
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall.