The adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me” is a lie. There is a commercial I see occasionally on television. It never ceases to capture my attention and make my heart race. The commercial shows only a mouth speaking phrases like, “You’re stupid;” “You’ll never amount to anything;” “I don’t know why I bother with you;” “I wish you were never born….” Words, careless words do in fact injure and wound people just as sticks and stones do break bones. The problem is you cannot see the broken “bones” of the spirit caused by this constant battering. Cher’s pop song, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” blasts a melody that should remind us of our speech when she sings, “Words are like weapons, they wound some times.” So while the bruises from sticks and stones may heal over a few weeks, careless and harsh words can cause a person to bleed internally for a lifetime.
The way we speak reveals a good deal about us personally. While we may not talk or comment in the ways seen on the commercial I described, we may do just as much damage if we share in gossip, rumors, or regularly engage in conversations that continue stereotypes of gender, race or ethnicity. The tone of one’s voice, clothed in sarcasm or mocking is like a weapon….it carries a barb that deeply pierces another person’s soul.
Jesus challenged a crowd that gathered near him by observing, “Out of the same mouth come both blessings and curses. It should not be so.” The Proverbs writer also instructs “reckless words pierce like a sword.” The careless word is like an uncontrolled missile. Its power is devastating, inflicting pain and suffering on everyone near its point of impact.
Jesus also said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” What if you were on trial for your life solely on the basis of what you said to or about others? How would you survive a trial for your life if it was based on your words alone, spoken to those around you or who are in relationship to you? If we were on trial for our lives by what we said, I believe we would surely think before we open our mouths in hurt, gossip, rumor, or other ways that inflict pain on others.
Today challenge yourself to think about how you normally respond to those closest to you, like colleagues, neighbors, friends, and loved family members. Do you support them, encourage them, and give a healing word or are their encounters with you full of venom, sarcasm, and deflecting the weapons of hurtful words?
Blessings for you today…”May the words of your mouth be pleasing….” Grace and peace.