Survivor Series: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay = O3
In a wordplay on Pastor Ed’s recent sermon title, I have abbreviated Outwit, Outlast, Outplay to O3. O3 is the chemical symbol for Ozone. It is a molecule composed of three atoms of oxygen. The normal air we breathe contains oxygen but in a molecule that has two atoms = O2. The third atom of oxygen creates an unstable and reactive gas. It is colorless and has a very pungent odor with powerful oxidizing properties. Many of us have heard of ozone because it has been the frequent subject of environmental concerns about the depletion of the Ozone Layer in the upper atmosphere due to man-made chemical pollution or high levels of ozone as a component of smog.
Ozone has two properties, in particular, relating to our usage of words. The Ozone Layer serves as a high-level shield from harmful ultraviolet radiation. If not for the Ozone Layer we would not only have permanent sunburns but be crispy critters suffering from cancer and a whole host of bodily degradation. This is a very good function of ozone. The second function is as a disinfectant. Because it is an active and powerful oxidizer, it reacts with biological substances and figuratively eats them up. It has been reported to be 10 times more efficient in killing bacteria than chlorine; another good thing. In contrast, inhaling ozone can harm one’s lungs, cause shortness of breath, chest pains and reduce the ability to fight off respiratory illnesses. As with words ozone can be very helpful or destructive. It comes down to how it is used.
I am challenged and encouraged to use words wisely in all my relationships especially with those God places closely in my life. It seems this is where the impact of words is most felt. The words expressed to a spouse, a child, grandchild, parents or one’s sibling have added value due to the built-in connection of family. We hear of, see with our own eyes, read stories and watch movies of relationships damaged because of words. We rarely will observe the opposite so I always enjoy stories where words made a big, positive, difference in a life. I think good words in a relationship serve as a shield against the negative “statements” that often are heard and circulate in a mind. Sometimes that one good word(s) will sustain a child for many, many, years and through many difficulties. Speak kindly, speak well, speak positively and do it often. It will be a shield for the heart of the ones we love. As Christ-followers God continually says to us, you are loved, you are a child of mine and I am well pleased with you. Taken to heart we can overcome the most challenging circumstance. It’s that ozone layer.
I think good words spoken in right circumstances can “disinfect” a heart that has been sickened with hurtful bad word bacteria. Much of our self-concept is shaped by the words we hear about ourselves. Too many bad words and we literally feel sick about ourselves. A wise person speaking good and Godly words into a troubled heart can bring healing. Proverbs 12:18 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 Negative words are so difficult to shake off but “like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” So when I look in a mirror and see my reflection, I see the precious jewelry of good words adorning my person. O3 – Good medicine for a troubled heart.