Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was never the mother of a teenager!
I don’t even remember what the words were, but they were probably not intended to be malicious. They were more the thoughtless words far too often spoken at that age. Nevertheless they were hurtful, and Lisa came home from school upset, crying as only a teenager can. My heart ached for her.
Our words have great power, and they flow out of what is deepest in our heart. They show either the light, or the darkness it contains. Jesus understood this, calling the crowd to Himself, saying “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them…“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” (Matthew 15:10-11, 17-18)
Other words wound, tear down, criticize, and discourage. You’re dumb. Fat. I hate you.
It’s not a new problem; it has always been like this:
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:7-1
Hawk Nelson has a song simply called “Words” that illustrates this far better than I ever could;
“Words can build you up , words can break you down;
Light a fire in your heart or put it out.
Let my words be life. Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna to say a word unless it points the world back to You.”
Praise and cursing out of the same mouth; this should not be. Because ultimately we want to point the world to Jesus, and our words will either do that, or be a stumbling block to it.
Sticks and stones, or salt and light. It’s a choice.
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 142:3
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
1. Can you recall a time when someone’s words hurt you deeply? How did you feel?
2. Do you remember a time when your own words did the same to someone else? What was your motivation?
3. Based on the words that come out of your mouth, how would someone judge the reality of Jesus in your heart?
Father, forgive me for all the times my words are sharp, and critical, and unloving. They only reveal where I have yet to let Your light shine in my heart. I yearn to better reflect Your reality in my life. Please, set a guard before my mouth, that my words and my faith become consistent.