Sticks And Stones And Words: A Proverb Of The Evil One
Just about everyone grew up with the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Few things could be farther from the truth. This phrase appeared first in the mid 1800s. While it was certainly meant to help those who retaliate verbal abuse with physical abuse, it has been twisted to mean that words can have no lasting effect on your life. This is not true in the least as we will see.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). How many of us could take five minutes and build a list of 10 things that are closest loved ones have said to us at critical moments in our lives that have wounded? Probably each on of us. Even though we may not have intentionally cataloged these interactions they exist still within our memories. That being so, words have more power than the little children’s nursery rhyme would lead us to believe. It is true that sticks and stones can break your bones. Look at the story of David and Goliath. Equally so, however, is how words can wound or kill the spirit and they can also bring abundant life.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The first action in this Romans verse says that we have to speak aloud that “Jesus is Lord”. The very action of using our words grants us eternal life. It is a requirement. No doubt there is great power in these words!
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). Conversely were we not to use our words to forgive others Jesus tells us that our own sins cannot be forgiven. With our very words we must forgive others. A confession like this also grants eternal life.
As we can see, our words make a difference. They can build someone up and the very next breath break someone down. I have been someone in the past to belittle someone in a joke for the sake of the joke. In every case of doing this I wounded. Getting rid of this type of humor is essential. Also, being critical of others is detrimental. Especially so if you verbalize that criticism every chance you get. Unless someone asks you for your opinion, it is always better to look for positive characteristics rather then remaining focused on the negative. It takes more effort to do that but we are people who are striving to be like Christ.
Another point that I have heard is that the Bible is full of sarcasm. It may be a trick that God used to be clever and reach our ears. Importantly, he knows how to do so without being malicious. He also knows how to show anger without sinning. He is God and we are not. There are far more times where Jesus was intently compassionate. We would be better to imitate that. It is much safer.
I challenge you today to make every word that comes out of your mouth subject to the love of Christ. If you sense that Christ would not say it then do your best to not say it as well. In every opportunity encourage. May words have life today and not death. I hope we never say again that words have no power. Let’s be children of great purpose. Let’s let our words speak life!