Who made that up anyways? – “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” I remember saying that all the time as I was growing up. It’s a great kid’s comeback, but it’s certainly not true. We may recover quite nicely from bumps and bruises, but it’s words that leave wounds that never fully heal.
“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Proverbs 12:18
The Bible speaks volumes about the words of our mouth, the destruction it can bring (even bringing life and death), and how we need to be mindful of what we say. Our tongue is a mighty tool or weapon, depending on how we use it. And God cares very much about how we choose to do so.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21
Words have great power. I am a “words” person. I take things spoken to me to heart, literally. This is not always a good thing. I have bad memories of words that were spoken to me, going all the way back to when I was a young teen. I remember them vividly, and am sure I will never forget. I don’t dwell on them, but they do “pop” up in my mind from time to time.
Here is an example of something that happened last weekend when I went on a lunch date with my hubby. I told my husband that I wanted to share something close to my heart with him. He responded in such a way that made me feel super self-conscious, and just literally dumb. He didn’t say anything bad, really. And now l know his intent was not as I had perceived it. But his reply was, “Oh, really?”, and that just shut me down. I was not about to share at that point. I told him how he made me feel, and he replied by saying that he didn’t realize what an impact his words had on me. THAT baffled me – because he has known me for over 30 years, and I went on to let him know that his words pierce me. And then that shut him down. Oh boy, was that date off to a bad start. We were only having our soup before the meal – and I wanted to just leave! After a few moments of silence (besides the soup-slurping), he spoke up. Thankfully, he is full of Godly wisdom. He used new words to make things right, and our date was redeemed!
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
The power of life and death, blessing or curses, encouragement or discouragement, a good date or a bad date – are in our words. What we say matters. Taking a moment to think before you speak is always best. It can not only save you from trouble, but prevent you from hurting those you love. Proverbs 15:28 speaks of the heart of the righteous studying how to answer. My husband has a difficult job, where his character is consistently tested. He has learned to respond instead of react. The difference? Thinking before you speak.
“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Proverbs 15:28
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. It’s not always as simple as thinking before we speak. Sometimes it’s a heart issue. Here is my prayer:
Do you have trouble reigning in your tongue? Try to remember to pray and think before you speak. Then respond, don’t react.