The Scripture states that there are many kinds of voices in the world, and that none of them is without signification (1 Cor. 14:10, KJV). While this falls in the context of Paul discussing the need for interpretation of tongues, I believe there is a much deeper understanding of this statement. The Greek word for voices is translated as “voice,” “sound,” “noise” and “to be noised abroad” in the various other passages where it occurs.[i] The Greek word for the phrase without signification is not used often in Scripture, but where it is, it carries the understanding of being “mute,” “dumb,” or “voiceless.”[ii] Thus, the passage could be read as follows: “There are many kinds of sounds or noises in the world, and none of them is mute.” The questions then become: What are these sounds or voices; and if they aren’t mute, then how can we silence them?
The first question is easier to answer than the second one. The prominent voice of life that spoke the world into existence is the voice of God. However, because of evil and sin in the world, the voice of God is no longer the only voice in existence. Many voices and sounds in the world exist in direct contradiction to God. Such voices include, but are not limited to: curses, idle words, ungodly music, negativity (about self or others), gossip, slander, and sarcasm (which comes from the Greek word sarkazein, which means “tear flesh” and includes synonyms such as “derision,” “mockery,” “ridicule,” “scorn,” and “sneering”).[iii] We are all familiar with these types of voices.
The Power of the Blessing
Now, to the second question: Though the passage declares that these voices are not mute, is there a supernatural way to silence the voices of cursing, negativity, gossip, and the like? The answer is: Yes! God has a noise-canceling technology! Let me illustrate with the following example. Recently, I went to a birthday party for one of my closest friends. Somebody gave him a new Bluetooth headset. Bluetooth headsets allow people to talk on their cell phones without having to hold the phone, but instead talking into a device that can be positioned on one of their ears. The cool thing about this Bluetooth headset was that it contained noise-canceling technology. That means that, if my friend answered a phone call in a very noisy area, the headset would be smart enough to record the background noise and play it back in such a way that the background noise would be eliminated through the phone connection and the person on the other end would hear nothing but my friend’s voice. How cool is that?!
There is a whole scientific process behind this, which I will not go into here because it is not necessary for understanding the concept. Basically, what you need to know is this: Every sound has a distinct wave to it, and it can be cancelled by playing a sound with an exactly opposite wave over it. This is called “destructive interference” because the second sound destroys the effects of the first sound.[iv] What I am going to submit to you today is that this is not only a natural process; it exists in the spirit realm too. Two alternate waves cancel out to create a flat line.
God’s noise-canceling technology is the blessing. For every curse that is spoken, every negative word that is uttered, and every ungodly lyric that is sung, there exists an equally powerful blessing that can be spoken to cancel it out! In fact, I will take that a step further. To speak a blessing in a greater proportion than the curse will not only cancel the curse but will also leave a remaining blessing on top of that! Come on!
I believe this is what Paul meant in the book of Romans when he wrote, “Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:20–21). Jesus took it a step further, saying, “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either” (Lk. 6:29). Why? Because in order to overcome a curse, we need to respond with an even greater blessing proportionally. This is absolutely contrary to the thinking of the world, but it is the way of the Kingdom of God.
What I Learned As a Child
When I was in fifth and sixth grade, some students in the grade above me came to my school and began treating me and a good friend of mine poorly. It started by simply calling me one unkind name, and at that point, I could deal with it. But it escalated, especially in my sixth grade year. Soon, they were calling my friend and me many names, as well as finding all kinds of ways to embarrass us. It also escalated to going from two bullies to probably six or seven who joined in. At the height of the escalation, some of these bullies would come up and tackle us to the ground when the teachers weren’t looking.
I eventually told my parents about this, and they talked with my teachers and did what they could to help. But I am convinced that one thing in particular made the difference: As a twelve year-old sixth grader, the Lord led me to read and meditate upon Luke 6. It soon became apparent to me that the section about loving your enemies was what I needed to put into practice. I wasn’t sure whether to call these guys my enemies, but they definitely weren’t my friends. I specifically dwelt upon verses 27–28: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” I took this to heart and began to pray regularly for those guys who were mistreating my friend and me.
And guess what? The problem went away overnight…NOT! This was a process, but I continued pray for those guys. It wasn’t until the next school year that I saw the fruit of those prayers. What happened was that some of them transferred schools, and the others who remained were no longer mean to my friend and me, but they were nice and included us in activities. Go, God!
Friends, there is a very special power that flows forth when, in spite of our opposing natural reaction, we respond contrarily to our feelings and pronounce blessings upon those who curse us. The power of God’s noise-canceling blessings brings a new meaning to the phrase, “The curse has been reversed!”
As with everything in this book, it is important to understand that it isn’t enough just to think the blessing. It needs to be verbally spoken. Noise-canceling technology doesn’t work unless it emits an opposite wave to cancel the first sound. When God gave the Law through Moses to the people of Israel, He was very careful to build a pattern of regular blessings into the system. We see this in Numbers 6:22–27 (emphasis added):
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”’
“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
I personally believe that this priestly blessing that the Lord instituted has never lost its significance or power. I believe it has just as much power today as it did in the days of Moses. Because of this, I practice praying this blessing over myself and others, and when I pray it aloud, I believe that it works!
The other day, I was praying over another of my closest friends, and at the end of the prayer, I felt led to pray the above priestly blessing over him. When I finished, he told me how refreshing it was to hear someone pray those words over him. There is just something about this blessing instituted by the Lord that is incredibly peaceful and refreshing.
One of the greatest things that parents can do for their children is pray and speak blessings over them on a regular basis. They should pray this blessing over their children regularly, both in private and also in front of them. Praying a blessing once a year is not going to cut it. The noise of the world keeps coming all the time, so the spoken blessing needs to keep coming as well. It is good to pray this blessing over one’s children in private without them hearing; however, it is essential to pray it over them in person on a regular basis so that they can hear the blessing from their parents’ mouths consistently. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact words of the priestly blessing, though that is one very viable option (and in my opinion, one of the best options because it contains the direct words of God). This principle of speaking blessing over people goes far beyond parents to children, though. It can apply to anybody.
I am honored to have parents who bless me on a regular basis. Not all people have this heritage, however, which is why it is important for us to bless ourselves as well, rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Actually, I believe that it is important and valuable to bless oneself regardless of whether a person grows up in a household of blessing or not. For this reason, I regularly pray blessings over myself, in addition to receiving my parents’ and others’ blessings. I first got into this habit because of the inspiration of one of my teachers in high school. Every time he was given the opportunity to pray aloud over the students (I went to a Christian school), he would finish his prayer by praying the priestly blessing of Numbers 6.[v] I loved this so much that I began to pray it over myself and others too.
The Lord spoke to my heart at the beginning of the year 2014 that I needed to write out a vision for myself and to pray and speak it out loud over myself on a regular basis. So, I wrote down this vision, as is declared in Habakkuk 2:2–3: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” I proceeded by vocally praying the vision over myself for the first twenty-one days of the year, and then once per week after that. I abide by this pattern to ensure that there is consistency in proclaiming the blessing regularly.
At the end of reading this vision aloud, I pray the following prayer over myself, which is a combination of the priestly blessing above (Num. 6:22–27) and the prayer of Jabez (1 Chron. 4:10):
Lord, bless me and keep me. Lord, cause Your face to shine upon me and be gracious unto me. Lord, lift up Your countenance upon me and give me Your peace. Lord, bless me and enlarge my territory. Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from evil, so that I may not cause pain. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Along these same lines, one of my all-time favorite songs is a song by Misty Edwards entitled “Light Of Your Face.” The song is basically a prayer to the Lord, requesting the Lord’s blessing:[vi]
O Lord, bless me and keep me
Cause Your face to shine on me
Lord, be gracious, lift the light of Your countenance
Give me peace
I live only to see Your face, so shine on me
Let the light of Your face shine down on my heart
And let me feel it
Since I began praying this vision statement and blessing over myself, I have experienced amazing things happen. This very blog is the result of those prayers, as one of the items on my vision statements includes that I would “write books, blogs, articles, and essays of high levels of influence, spreading the message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the thousands.” Another item on this vision statement states that I would be “physically healthy and fit, free from any sicknesses that would hinder these callings.” Catch this. From the start of 2014 to the time of my writing this article (August 2014), I have not been sick with a cold or flu one time. I began to get sick once, but the full symptoms never manifested, and I was back to normal the next day. It is unheard of for me to go for that long of a stretch of time without getting sick, as my past pattern had dictated that I would get sick about once every couple months or so. But not this year! All praise be to God! [Now, at the end of December 2015, while I occasionally became ill, the illnesses have still been much quicker and less frequent than they used to be!]
Now, before you get concerned about me thinking that I’m invincible, you can rest assured that I know my place. There have been other physical problems that I have still dealt with this year. However, I agree with Bill Johnson in saying that I choose to focus on what God is doing in my life, rather than on the areas where I don’t see Him working.[vii]
You might be asking, “Yeah, but isn’t praying for yourself in this way a bit conceited?” Not if you do it with the right heart and attitude. The purpose of praying blessings upon yourself is not so you can get whatever you want whenever you want it. The purpose is to train yourself to align your heart with God’s heart. God doesn’t curse you, so why should you speak words that produce curses within yourself—intentionally or unintentionally? Even if you don’t curse yourself, why should you allow the words of others to negatively affect you?
Every time a pastor prays or speaks a blessing at church, I symbolically extend both my hands as if receiving a present because I want to position myself to receive every word of this blessing. Now, you don’t have to do that to receive the spoken blessing; however, I like to do it because it reminds me that the words of a blessing carry significant power, and I want to receive as much of that power as possible.
God’s Trump Card
Let me tell you some good news. God’s blessing trumps every curse! There is no curse that can overpower His blessing. We can see this in the account of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 22–24. Without getting into the whole story, it is sufficient to say that Balak (king of Moab) was afraid of the Israelites because of how much power they had been gaining and how much blessing they had been walking in. He was afraid they would overtake Moab. So he sent for the prophet Balaam, giving him payment to put a curse on Israel.
Balaam obliged, yet every time he went to curse Israel, he opened his mouth and instead pronounced blessings! This infuriated Balak, but Balaam had no choice in the matter. As much as he wanted to curse Israel, he couldn’t. At one point, Balaam declared, “Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it….The LORD his God is with him [Israel], and the shout of a King is among them” (Num. 23:20–21). As much as Balaam tried to curse Israel, he couldn’t because God has already infinitely blessed the nation!
Cancel or Magnify?
There is no sound of this world that can cancel out the sound of God’s blessing. As Isaiah 54:17 says, any time you hear a tongue that rises up against you, all you have to do is condemn that tongue and declare it as wrong because it does not line up with what God’s Word says about you. God’s people are already blessed by default, and there is no reversing that.
However, this does not mean that people can’t try. Many tongues—including even your own tongue—may try to rise against you through any of the means mentioned at the beginning of this chapter (curses, idle words, ungodly music, negativity [about self or others], gossip, slander, and sarcasm). The best way to respond to the ungodly noise of the world is to project a proportionally greater godly sound to cancel out the ungodliness and overpower it. The best way to cancel a curse is to pronounce a blessing of equal or greater value. If someone criticizes you, bless them back. If someone slanders you, speak well of them. This is what the Proverb means that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1).
The interesting thing about noise cancelation is that there is an opposite process. It is called “constructive interference,” and it occurs whenever two sound waves equally overlap each other, causing the wave to double in size.[viii]
The point is that blessings upon blessings can only yield greater blessings, while curses upon curses yield even worse curses. Our natural response is to respond to an insult with another insult. Our natural response is to respond to gossip by spreading more gossip. However, this does not solve the problem; it actually doubles the size of the problem. In the Kingdom, the only way to eliminate the voices of the world is to respond with equal or greater blessings proportionally. As the old saying goes, adding fire to a fire only creates a bigger fire.
It’s time for the people of God to take responsibility for the power of their words and to understand how to live in the blessing of God and demonstrate that blessing to others. People expect you to respond to their insults with a defensive, harsh reply. But a blessing? They’ll never see that coming. But it will diffuse the situation beautifully. It may not happen immediately. One of the problems many people face is that their circumstances don’t change the first day after they began speaking blessings. Some people grow weary and give up and go back to their old ways. Yet, this is not a quick process. It is a process that takes time and endurance. However, I am completely confident that when we faithfully speak blessings on a regular basis over ourselves and over others, we will see change take place over time. And we will look back one day and praise God, declaring, “The curse has been reversed!”
[i] Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
[iii] I learned this definition of sarcasm from my high school music teacher. Thank you, Mrs. Baker, for giving me this insight.
[iv] Hewitt, Paul G., John Suchocki, and Leslie A. Hewitt. “Chapter 10: Waves and Sound.” Conceptual Physical Science. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Addison Wesley, 2008. 241-42. Print.
[v] This teacher was Mr. Baker, married to the Mrs. Baker mentioned a couple notes above. In addition to my pastors and my parents, I owe much of my understanding of the power of the blessing to these two dynamic, faith-filled people.
[vi] Edwards, Misty, David Brymer, and Cassandra Campbell. “Light Of Your Face.” Relentless. Misty Edwards. Forerunner Music, 2007. CD.
[vii] Johnson, Bill. Dreaming with God: Co-laboring with God for Cultural Transformation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2006. Print.
[viii] Hewitt, Paul G., John Suchocki, and Leslie A. Hewitt. “Chapter 10: Waves and Sound.” Conceptual Physical Science. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Addison Wesley, 2008. 241-42. Print.