“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is an old saying that goes back a long time. I remember hearing this phrase growing up. This familiar phrase has grown in popularity over the years; however, as I have grown older, I realized this old saying is not true — words do hurt.
In my personal experience, I feel words are more painful than physical injuries and ailments. Words have a way of staying in our hearts and hurtful words can fester in the deepest, darkest places of our hearts, minds, and souls.
1. Mindful Words
Words do hurt us. When someone says something mean to us, it hurts. Unlike physical injuries, wounds caused by hurtful words may take longer to heal or they may never heal. The Bible tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).
Our words have the power of life and death. This means that what we say with our words can affect others and likewise, other people’s words can affect us. Words can either build a person up or tear them down.
As Christians, we should always encourage one and build each other up as Paul tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Building up others is more beneficial to our loved one’s spiritual well-being and their mental health.
When we are speaking with others, it’s important that we treat others the way we want to be treated. Jesus tells us this fact as He says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
If everybody treated everyone the way they would like to be treated, the world would be a much better, brighter, and happier place. Sadly, the world is steeped in sin and people are mean, hurtful, and hateful with their words.
As Christians, we are to shine brightly for Christ and part of this entails that we use our words kindly. If we say mean things with our tongues, we are automatically disowning God and bringing down His name.
As Christians, we are the mouthpiece for God in this fallen world. If we say mean things and hurt others, the lost will wrongly associate our bad actions with Christ. If we act badly, the lost will associate Jesus with being someone who is mean, unkind, and hurtful.
Yet, if we display Christ in our actions and glorify Him with our words, all people will be able to see the love of Christ.
When we are speaking with others, it is of the utmost importance that we are kind and respectful with our words. We do not want to push somebody away because of our careless and hurtful words.
2. The Power of the Tongue
James tells us the power of the tongue in his writing as he states, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).
A couple of verses over, James also tells us, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).
Every human being is given a tongue, which means we need to use it for God’s glory. As James tells us, our tongues are a small part of our bodies, yet they can alter the entire course of our lives.
What we say and how we use our words will affect our relationship with others and in other areas of our lives. Think about it in this way — would you like to be around somebody who was always hurtful and would say mean things to you? Most of us would say no.
We would rather be around someone who is kind and respectful towards us. Colossians 4:6 tells us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
In this passage of Scripture, Paul tells us to fill our conversations with grace. Speaking with grace means extending kindness, love, and encouragement in our daily conversations.
When we use our words wisely and kindly, we will be sharing Christ in our actions and shining His light to the lost world.
3. Building Love
Sometimes people will be mean to us, and it can be tempting to say something mean back, but we shouldn’t. We should always take the higher road and choose to be kind. Even if someone hurts us, we should not return evil for evil.
1 Peter 3:9 tells us, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” In everything we do, we need to be kind even if the other person is not kind to us.
Jesus was kind to everybody even though many people hated Him, such as the Jewish leaders. Instead of being mean towards them, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, including those who persecuted Him, beat Him, and crucified Him (John 3:16-17).
The Lord did this because He loves all people. Love is greater than hate and it can destroy every darkness that comes in its path. When we extend love consistently, we will be less likely to hurt others with our words.
In the same way, when we have love built up in our hurts, we can be more forgiving when others hurt us with their words. Since we live in a fallen world, it’s inevitable that someone will say something hurtful to us at one time or another.
We have to let the love of Christ saturate our hearts and forgive them even when they hurt us. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Forgiving others even when they aren’t sorry is important for us as Christians. It is important to remember that forgiving others does not mean that you forget what they have done, nor does it mean that what they did to you is okay.
Instead, forgiving others means you are giving it all over to God and that you are letting go of any hate, anger, or bitterness. Holding onto unforgiveness will only result in pain, sadness, and distress.
Choose forgiveness when others say mean things to you because it will give you peace. Words do hurt us; however, we can make sure our words don’t hurt other people in our lives by refraining from saying anything hurtful, mean, or disrespectful.
We cannot control what other people say, but we can control what we say. As we all know, words do hurt, and they can send us down a spiral of pain. It is important for us as Christians to be mindful of our words and only speak words of life, kindness, and love.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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