"Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you."
How many times did you hear that as a kid? I heard it plenty, said it plenty. And what's more is that many of us teach that little ryhme to our children to avoid them from being affected by the sometimes hurtful things their peers can say.
Is it true though?....
I would say that words can hurt, very much. If anyone has any doubts just look through the yellow pages (do people still do that?) or a quick google search with your zip code and the endless list of psychiatrists and psychologists will help give us an answer. Words wound others and they can cause deep wounds that sometimes take a lifetime to heal, if ever. That is, if we trust in man to help us heal...with God there is the promise of total healing...but that is for another post :) Today, I'd like to just talk about what God tells us about the words we choose to communicate to others.
Encouraging and compassionate words can build others up with. Hastily spoken words said in moments of emotion can disintegrate self-esteems, relationships and our hopes in communicating God's love to others if we aren't careful.
How important are the words we say? Very important. The Bible is full of verses warning us to choose our words carefully and stressing the importance that sometimes less is more. Let's remind ourselves, through His Word, of how God expects His children to approach one another in speech and God's view of speech itself.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 11:12 He who belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remanins silent.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
2 Timothy 2:16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
James 3:6-10 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh words stirs up anger.
The more we grow in Christ the more natural it will become to respond, even in moments where we are beginning to feel groundless, with words of love and compassion. God wants us to choose our words with care. If we are to grow in our walk and in our faith we have to learn when to speak and when not to. This is a very difficult thing (something I am far from mastering myself!), especially in this world where it seems like we can't go through a day without someone saying something that is frustrating or where an incident arises that threatens to steal our peace. When we allow the actions or words of others to steal our peace it is easy to respond in a similiar fashion. But God calls us not to! This is something I think that is worthy to pray for because certainly the words we express to others effect our relationships with them and the way we present ourselves to the world as followers of Christ.
So, let's pray :)
Forgive us for the hurtful words that sometimes come out of our mouths that cause others to suffer. Reveal to us those that we have wounded so that we can apologize, with sincerity and love, for the hurt we have caused. Help us to let go of pride, let go of our own hurt, our own wounds and help us surrender completely to you so that we may be washed in the light of your love. May our lives be living testaments to your unending and free gift of mercy. We thank you unceasingly for this gift of mercy you show mankind for without it we'd be lostand have no hope! Help change us, through your love and compassion, through your Spirit working in our hearts, so that we may, with every passing day, be more and more like Jesus. We praise you, we honor you, we worship you.
In Jesus' holy name, Amen.