by Latricia C. Bailey
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.”
These are the chants and boastful words from prizefighter and champ, Muhammad Ali, taunted towards another notable fighter. On October 30, 1974, 32-year-old Muhammad Ali became the heavyweight champion of the world for the second time when he knocked out 25-year-old champ George Foreman in the eighth round of the “Rumble in the Jungle,” a match in Kinshasa, Zaire. The fight was impressive because of many reasons. But the thing that always makes the difference to me with any fight are the words that initiate it.
Professional boxers fight and often use trash talk to incite fear or doubt in their opponents. Muhammad Ali to me was the king of trash talk not because he wanted to hurt them, but because his strategy was to initiate fear of him in them. Though his motives were for the sport of boxing, he often made his opponents scared and look foolish. I enjoyed boxing as a young girl, and he was truly the “greatest”. His pre-fight words/trash talk were strategic, witty, and impactful. Proverbs 18 talks a lot about being wise among foolish people and things of this world. Verse 21 reminds us that our words have power and influence. We can encourage others with our wit or wisdom or we can poison them with our trash talk and incite fear in them. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy us whether we like it or not. He is just a trash-talker because he already lost his fight with us. Just remember that God is always on our side when we bet on Him.
Muhammad Ali said about himself, “I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest.” He knew how to encourage himself, and outsmarted his opponents. Each of us has the power to choose life or death with our words. Remember that we are in a spiritual fight while we are on this Earth so choose your words carefully. The chatter from Satan or someone else may hurt or sting, but just like with Ali, it’s all trash-talking when you know that Jesus is the greatest, and He is the only “Word” that matters. Words may kill, but the living Word is fruit that causes us as fighters in this life to always win.