As a child growing up I always heard the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I understand what the originator of the phrase was trying to say. The premise behind the phrase tells us that we should never give someone the power to speak things over our lives that will hurt us or break our spirit. However, let’s be honest…words can hurt!
The things we say mean something. The words we choose to use in our speech have the power to uplift and inspire, as well as the power to break confidence and tear us down. I’m not sure why people in the world today feel as though what they say is irrelevant. We often hear recording artists say, “That’s just a song it doesn’t mean anything” or “It’s just something to do, it’s all in fun” blah blah blah. But when you really think about it, we internalize the words to the songs we hear. The same way we internalize the Word of God when we hear sermons from our Pastor on Sunday mornings, or when we hear a wonderful choir singing praises to God. Those words speak to our lives. Those words Inspire us. So why is it that we are so quick to disregard the things we say that hurt people or indirectly influence people in a negative manner as if they mean nothing? Do we not trust God’s Word? Do we think the Word is flexible and shouldn’t be taken literally? Well guess what? We should absolutely take it literally. The Word teaches us that life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and that lets us know how powerful our speech is.
So why do people who claim to be Christians have such foul mouths? Why do we feel it’s ok to “cuss sometimes” only in certain settings? The Word is clear, “Do not to use foul or abusive language. Everything we say should be good and helpful, so that our words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29). When we’re at a football game or at work or on the phone with our friends, why do we think it’s okay to use foul language just because they are? God is always watching. Your children are always watching. The world is always watching. If we want to be Christ-like, if we want to be an example of God on this Earth, we must live our lives in a way that people see the glory of God in us. We don’t want to be known as “sometime” Christians. More importantly, we don’t want non-believers to see our inappropriate behavior, and think “that’s how they act.” We should strive to speak words that are healing and sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:24). When we have disagreements with people, we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry because anger does not produce the righteousness God desires (James 1:19-20). Let’s do our best to be the light that reflects God’s love on this earth. One of the best ways to do this is with our speech. Let’s do our best to speak life to those around us.