The Mid-Week Mix: What Did You Say?
I’ve been physically injured more times than I can remember. I’ve had more sets of stitches than Frankenstein, and I’ve got so many scars that I don’t remember how I received them. I’m sure each of my injuries and wounds were painful, but honestly, I don’t remember their pain. However, I do remember 40 years ago when schoolmates called me names, teased me, and embarrassed me in some manner. I remember who said it, the context and environment in which it was said, and the reactions of the people who heard it. The old rhyme, “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” sounds good, but I don’t agree. I think words hurt much worse.
Some people might say that I’m being overly-sensitive. Others might say that my skin is too thin. I understand that. But as a pastor, I work daily with people who have experienced a variety of pains and challenges. After spending some time with them, I often discover that much of their current pain is rooted in words or comments of other people. So yes, I’m sensitive to language and vocabulary because I see how much it hurts, even many years after it may have occurred.
As we grow older, we begin to understand how powerful words can be. One would think that we would become immune to the harmful things people might say to us, but that’s not the case. We only need to close our eyes and think about the last time someone said something hurtful or hateful to us. Poorly-chosen words still hurt us deeply. Likewise, when we choose the wrong words when referring to other people, we hurt them just as much. One slip of the tongue can cause significant and long-lasting damage in anyone.
Jesus chose His words carefully. Jesus’ words were not meant to destroy. Rather, Jesus’ words were meant to save. Jesus rebuked others but in the same breath He would encourage them. Jesus followed the example that God provided, offering grace in the midst of correction, peace in the midst of conflict, and forgiveness in spite of sin.
God didn’t intend for us to use words as tools to elevate some people at the expense of others. Rather, God needs our words to connect us together in both the celebrations and struggles of life. Who needs a kind word today? Everyone.
As written in the Book of Proverbs, “Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4, GNT)