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June-July 2016


Hidden Heroes


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HIt had been one of those Mondays—looming deadlines, computer trouble, and a short stack of letters from folks who didn’t agree with my latest article (to put it mildly). After taking a few handwritten body blows, I couldn’t help but view the final letter with suspicion. I didn’t recognize the return address, and it simply said, “To the Editor.” Not a good sign.

After a few moments, I picked up the envelope with a deep sigh and gingerly slid the letter opener along the crease. I eased out a beautiful card, swallowed hard, opened it, and began reading. Immediately, phrases jumped from the page…not the criticism I expected, however. I’m proud of you; you are doing a good job; and I prayed for you this morning. Suddenly, the day seemed a little brighter, and I sat up straighter as I finished the note. Keep up the good work! You are an important part in what God is doing.

The amazing power of words: to build up, tear down, heal or destroy.
In the third chapter of his practical book, James reminded readers that words reflect the inner man, an accurate barometer of our walk with Christ. Consider three simple suggestions from his teaching. We must…

  • Recognize our inability to control our words (verse 8) and surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

  • Communicate to others like we communicate to God (verse 9). Wouldn’t this solve some problems!

  • Be consistent in our words: blessing, not cursing (verses 9-10); sweet, not bitter (verses 11-12); and fulfilling the fruit of the Spirit rather than the flesh (verses 12-17).

James shared three common illustrations to prove his point: a bit, a rudder, and a fire. All three have something in common. They all require a third party. The horse doesn’t put a bit in its own mouth. The ship doesn’t turn its own rudder, and a fire doesn’t start without a source. What was James trying to tell us? It is only when we surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit that our words are brought into submission to His will.

And words hold such power. I will never forget the simple lines expressed by my high school English teacher. After grading the first essay of my junior year, he wrote simply: “Beautifully done! Good clean portrait. You need to have more confidence in your writing.”

Those words changed my life.

The question is: whose life can you change today? I challenge you to take time to write to someone today. Ask God to bring a particular person to mind. It may be a note of appreciation, a letter of encouragement, an email to reconnect with an old friend, or—as much as I hate to admit it—a letter to the editor to let him know he has wandered into “left field.” You never know who needs to hear from you.


About the columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at




©2016 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists