As a child growing up and even as a very young parent, I would not only hear but utter what I would find to be one of the biggest lies to be told once I became a follower of Christ. Even as a middle school teacher it is one of the most prevalent biblical lessons that I can easily assimilate into my daily structure of my classroom expectations. The saying, sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt me, is one of the most untruthful statements that could be spoken to a child.
If anyone has ever had the chance to see me and my wife stand next to each other it is easy to assume that I am physically the stronger of the two of us. However, I have come to learn that these muscles are no match for the untamed tongue which ultimately is the strongest muscle in the body. One thing that the Lord has always made clear about taking part in writing these devotionals was that transparency would be required and exposing areas in my life that I was blind to will be no exception. I have shared previously that the removal of drug addiction was taken from me and the exposure of how short I fall as a husband was now exposed. I am very honest, next to confessing my sin nature to Christ the next hardest confession I made was how I have failed to love my wife the way Christ has designed me to love her. How does this tie into everything? Well, it started by understanding that I have not always been using my words to edify her as a wife and mother, failing to realize just at times how hurtful and sharp my words can cut. Proverbs 12:18 reminds us that “the words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Whether it be my wife or my children, my words have a direct effect on them. What I have come to be convicted of is that my words do not have to be rude, disrespectful or even demeaning to be hurtful but can be dismissive or not pure with intent to have just the same affect. I read a quote from a ministry I enjoy called Fierce Marriage and it said, “No one in the world can encourage and validate your spouse as meaningfully as you , choose words that give life.”
So, let’s revisit the saying “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt me.” Truth is words have the ability to impact a person on every level, the ability to build them up and tear them down. In a split second we can encourage a person to do anything or have the ability to make them feel like nothing. Words have the ability to hurt people beyond the two seconds it takes them to leave our mouths but can penetrate their hearts for a lifetime.
James 9-12 is such a conviction for me as a believer “9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring?12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
It is such a profound example of how we have the power to use our words to praise and glorify God and at the same time can choose to use them for the lowest point of use by putting down one another. However, when we elect to use gracious words they are said to be a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)
So, I ask, have your words been piercing like a sword or bringing healing to the wise lately?