So many things begin and end with our words. We can speak truth and love and encouragement, but there are also times where our words convey hatred and malice. Our words can cause others to turn astray and or they can help someone get back on the right path. Our words have a greater impact on people than we might first think. “Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be so” (James 3:10).
The Pain of Hurtful Words
As kids, we were nothing but honest. We had not developed a filter yet, so we said the first thing that came to mind. The statement “truth hurts” could never be truer. Everyone knows the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” and we all know this statement to be false. Yes, some of us have learned to ignore the hateful comments thrown at us but, no matter how tough we think we are, sometimes they can still hit us like a hard blow. With each truth or remark thrown our way, we feel a little sting each time. We may learn to not let those remarks get to us as much, but they still get stuck in our thoughts.
Honestly, sometimes it is hard to say which is worse: verbal or physical harm. Physical harm causes external wounds that heal over time. There may be scars that come from it and we will always be afraid of another beating, but we physically heal from that. When it comes to verbal harm, we tend to take everything to heart and hold on to it for long periods of time… sometimes even for life.
Holding onto these harmful words only amplifies the effect. As you internalize what was said to you, you begin to believe them. You basically start to bully yourself using the words that others have said. No one is immune to this.
The Destructive Power of Words
Our words also can spread gossip and cause trouble in someone else’s life. Whether it is true or not, people will often believe the worst about another person. As sinful humans, we are naturally drawn to gossip and rumors. We love drama. It gives us a thrill and makes us feel better about ourselves. We already know this, but it cannot be said too many times: rumors and gossip tear down and humiliate.
God wants us to be uplifting and encourage our brothers and sisters with our words, not causing them pain or humiliation. In James 3:6, God points out that our tongues are evil: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity”.
Even though our tongues tend towards wickedness, God also gave us a chance to use them for good. By spreading His love and His Word, we turn our tongues from their evil way. As Christians, we should use our words and tongues to stop enmity and strife, not to start them.
As believers, our roles are to be His instruments. We are His voice on the earth. We proclaim the Scripture, helping others to better understand it. In other words, we are interpreters. Our main mission is to make disciples and tell everyone of Him and His works. Let us use our tongues for good and not for evil.