Sticks, Stones, and Words

Tears flowed freely now. Now that she was alone and now that no one could see them. “Why? Why did she say that? Did she mean to hurt me?” Later, she came to talk to her preacher. She wondered why she made people feel that way about her. She didn’t know what she did, but she must have done something to them first. 

I wish I could tell you that this was not a real event, but this event is real and repeats over and over. Only the faces, names, and specifics change. I wish I could tell you that it is a real event that happened at a workplace or a school, but this event (these events) happened in church. Christian accusing Christian. Christian insulting Christian. Christian laughing at another Christian’s choices. One Christian putting another down over clothing, employment, income, education, and family dynamics. 

The church, of all places, should be a place of welcome, compassion and encouragement. The church, of all places should be a place of refuge from the harshness of the world. The church, of all places, should be a place where what we say, what is said to us, and what is said about us builds up and does not tear down. Sadly, this is not always the case. Regretfully, we hurt each other. Brethren, this ought not to be so!

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” (Jas 3:6-12)

There is an old verse that children repeat that says, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” We said that as children to defend ourselves against verbal bullies. However, we lied to ourselves. Words hurt! I agree with a lyric from the song,  “Mean Girls” by Leanne Crawford, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but no one ever warned about words.” 

Words can hurt or they can heal. Words can injure or they can encourage. Christian, let us choose our words carefully. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)

Dear Father in Heaven, Today as we think about our words, help us to use our words to build up, help us to be careful not to tear others down. Help us to think about the power and influence of our words. In the words of Your psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth . . . be acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” In Jesus’ name.

– Scott

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