James 3:2 -Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. NLT
When I was growing up and someone would say something hurtful to us we would chant back at them,
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”
We knew we were lying at the time because we were hurt! We just didn’t understand why we bought into the lie!
We say that cancer is a major killer and researchers are frantically looking for a cure. But an even bigger killer is hurtful words! When we throw our words around with the intent of hurting someone, we need to understand that we are being used by the enemy to bring death, both emotionally and even physically, to that person’s life!
I was out and about taking care of business when I heard a little boy about 3 years old crying. Then a woman, I am thinking it was his mother, came over and grabbed him and began cursing at him as if he was a full grown man. It shocked me so bad I almost went over to her and said something. Already she was laying the foundation of death in his spirit and death in their relationship. And those things could ultimately lead to his physical death,
People commit suicide because of bullying, taunting, and hurtful words on a daily basis. Those who don’t physically kill themselves live with low self-esteem wrapped up in an inferiority complex because they have been beaten down by someone’s words. And the saddest part of all, those hurtful, hateful words come from people we expect to love us, cherish us, and protect us.
Parents call their children all kinds of unproductive names as they are growing up: lazy, trifling, pathetic, worthless, setting the standard in their children’s lives for how they see themselves. Siblings attack one another. Sometimes under the guise of playing and joking, but they leave wounds that will follow the sibling possibly for life. Friends, or so called friends, say mean things, and teachers can even damage students. Employers can be hurtful to employees, and even pastors to the flock. The list is as exhaustive as our relationships. So living in a world of hurt becomes normal until it becomes unbearable, destroying people on the inside until they destroy themselves or others on the outside.
The verse above states that we all make mistakes. You see, if you find yourself in one of these categories as the giver of hurtful words you need to stop it! Your words matter in the lives of other and you are helping to destroy a person’s life. This thing is serious! It’s more than just a mistake, it’s sin!
As an educator insults are hurled at me on a regular basis. I generally try not to get on the same level, but I am not perfect and have said some things. One day a student was really disrespectful to me in the things that she said to me. They weren’t the worst things I had ever heard, but this particular day they were the words that sent my tongue into reaction. I told her in front of the whole class, her audience, that she was a child and needed to stay in a child’s place because if she was my child I would have already placed my hand on her mouth. Now, she understood my language enough to know that I had just told her that I wanted to slap her silly! I am pretty sure it was the first time ever I had said anything like that, but the point is that I did!
Well, thank God for putting me in check! I knew I had lost control of my tongue and I knew what I said had been hurtful even though it was provoked and she played it off. The next day I apologized to her in private and then later in class I apologized to her in front of her classmates. I became “her” teacher after that and her behavior and interaction with me became more positive. Even the other students in the class began to respond better towards me because I was willing to say that I was sorry. Then I asked for forgiveness! My words mattered then, and they matter every day! In all of my relationships!
Another time I was chatting with some colleagues when one of them referred to her husband as stupid. I said to her that she shouldn’t say things like that about her husband. She responded that he was stupid. Then she went on to ask me if I didn’t say things like that when my husband did stupid things. I replied to her that I don’t even think things like that about my husband! He’s not stupid, he is a wise man. The other lady responded with something like, “Well, mine is stupid!” I went on to say that when he does something I don’t like or I am not in agreement with I just stick with the issue without attaching negative words to him. They began looking at me with that, “sure you don’t” look. But then I gently said something like, “That’s why I have been happily married for so long. We don’t address each other in that manner because it is destructive to a relationship and we want to strengthen our marriage, not tear it down!”
Maybe you can think of a time, or several times, you allowed the situation to cause you to be thoughtless with your words. Maybe you have hurt, or are hurting your spouse, your child, your sibling, your student, your pastor, your flock, your employee… whoever it is, they don’t deserve to be spoken to like that. They should not experience such unkindness at the mouth of someone who is supposed to love, support, or protect them. Even in jesting, even when they provoke it. Stop it!
If you can’t stop it, you are out of control! I didn’t say it, the Word does. You have no control over your mouth or your life. And eventually it will begin to show. Do it for yourself and in the end you will be doing it for them. Your words matter, so make them count! Maybe I will address this in the next blog. It’s powerful! Wonderful Jesus!