That Truth was drawn into sharp focus as recorded in the biblical book of Judges, 12th chapter. After a devastating battle, the Ephraimites were soundly defeated and tried to return home by crossing the Jordan river.
Let the Bible tell the story: “Whenever a survivor of Ephraim said ‘Let me cross over,’ the men of Gilead asked him, ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ If he replied, ‘No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’”
“If he said, ‘Sibboeth,’ because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two-thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.”
On the other hand, the Bible discusses the right word being used at a fitting time. The wise King Solomon said, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:12).
Nonetheless, we sometimes get our tongue tangled. For example, an NBC announcer once greeted his listeners: “Good ladies, evening and gentleman of the audio radiance.”
The Apostle Paul, writing to the members of the church at Ephesus, stressed the importance of the choice of words. He wrote: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (4:29).
Concerning bad use of words in public speaking, Winston Churchill commented about some speakers: “Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said.”
John Milton observed: “But all was false and hollow; though his tongue dropped manna and could make the worse appear the better reason.”
The First Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla., bulletin named the most important words:
The six most important words — “I admit I made a mistake.”
The five most important words — “You did a good job.”
The four most important words — “What is your opinion?”
The three most important words — “If you please.”
The two most important words — “Thank you.”
The most important word —“We”
The least important word — “I.”
In the past, a few spoken words have influenced the entire world: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” were the first words of Neil Armstrong as he stepped on the moon.
“The Italian navigator has landed and the natives are friendly” were the first coded words released announcing the successful development of atomic energy.
“What hath God wrought?” was the first message sent long distance by Morse telegraph.
“Mr. Watson, come here; I want you” were the first distinguishable words by telephone.
“Where art thou?” were the first words of the Heavenly Father after the fall of Adam and Eve.
God is still asking mankind the same question. If we respond to Him, He lets us know that whatever we have done and wherever we are, He loves us and we may come to Him.