Devotion for the Week...
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Did you ever say that as a kid? I know I did, many, many times. But isn't it the stupidest of all stupid sayings? We all know that sticks and stones can hurt, yes, but we should all know words can hurt just as much, no matter how hard we try to strip them of their power.
People the world over are living with the scars left by harsh, demeaning and dehumanizing words spoken against them. We've all been hurt by someone else's careless comment that left us feeling somehow "less" than we had been a moment before. And, if we are honest, we've probably been the one to speak those careless words at times too.
The power of words is nothing new, of course. David wrote in Psalm 64, "Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear" (vv. 2-4).
Isn't it appropriate that David compared words to weapons? Just think about how a mean comment can make it hard for you to even breathe...how a dream can be crushed if someone you trust tells you it's a waste of time...how a child's whole day can be ruined if a friend says they won't ever play together again (even if we grown ups know the friend will have a change of heart by morning).
Though we're (hopefully) not intentionally using our words as weapons, the potential for damage is just as high when we're only being careless. After all, a gun shot accidentally still has the power to hurt someone. And perhaps the potential for damage is even higher with our careless words, because we sometimes don't realize we've said something hurtful and so we repeat it over and over again.
Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death." Just think about that for a moment; think about the power that our words have. When we speak, we have the power to positively build someone up, to lighten their load, or to let them know they're not alone. Or we have the power to drag them down, increase their burden or make them feel isolated and abandoned.
Now think about how often we speak without thinking. Scary thought, right?
If our words have the potential to cause as much damage as weapons, then we had better be aware of what we're saying. We had better slow down and think before we speak. We had better be sure that what we say will be full of the power of life and not the power of death.