Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
What a crock!
Our words carry immense weight and have the potential to cause damage years after a careless comment slips from our lips.
This weekend we spent the 4th of July with family and friends. I had ample opportunity to witness several conversations in which one or more people were undoubtedly hurt by ill chosen words.
In all honesty I was stunned by what I heard and it saddened my heart.
It happens all the time, and I would venture a guess that we are probably numb to it.
Our culture in all its attempts to be politically correct, socially responsible and environmentally friendly fails miserably at holding our tongues and using the power of words responsibly.
What does this look like?
1. We make a joke at our spouses expense in order to get a cheap laugh.
2. We point out a friend or family member’s weakness in order to gain the upper hand.
3. We say something hurtful under the guise of speaking the truth in love.
4. We fail to consider the other person and seek to gratify our desire to lash out, share inappropriately or hurl an insult out of frustration.
When does this occur?
This most often happens when we find ourselves dealing with difficult people (see my last post), when we feel threatened, jealous or hurt.
When we engage in these types of word assaults we are nothing more than a verbal bully. We can try to rationalize and justify all we want, but the truth is words hurt and we are responsible.
The spoken word both positive and negative have lasting effects on us.
Many years ago a co-worker insulted me about my appearance. This person was comparing me to another co-worker and giving an ESPN style play by play in a room full of my colleagues. Needless to say I was embarrassed and angry.
Years later I still hear those insults and comparisons when I look in the mirror.
Words hurt. Words linger. Words have power.
Unfortunately for many, the church has not been a safe place either. In the name of Jesus we verbally throw people under the bus with our words.
We say things that are designed to “help them grow” or “make them aware” but often times what we are really doing is trying to make ourselves feel better and more important.
This grieves God’s heart. We are His body. We are to reflect His glory for all to see His love, His goodness and His kindness. This cannot and does not happen when we are engaged in verbal mortal combat with our brothers and sisters.
Scripture is pretty clear on this issue. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In Paul’s letter to Thessalonica, he reminded them to “Encourage one another, and build each other up…” as he knew the value and importance of words and our responsibility to one another.
As you go about your week, I encourage you to consider the power of your words and look for ways to speak words that build up rather than destroy.
How have you been wounded with words?
Grace & Peace ~ Karen