I can remember hearing this when I was little. All the kids were chanting it on the playground. I’m sure you have heard it before. It goes like this, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” LIE!
Our words can make a world of difference to someone. They can lift someone up or break someone down. I know I am guilty of saying things that I regret. Unfortunately, we can’t take our words back. Once they fall out of our mouth they are engraved in someone else’s reality forever. I certainly wish I could take some back.
Our words are one of the best tools to boost someone’s self-esteem, encourage, motivate, praise, compliment, and show our love with. On the flip side, our words can literally deflate someone’s esteem, discourage, insult, and transmit hatred.
I teach school. Sometimes thoughts come to my mind. Like, the time I tied a kid’s shoe and then asked what the wet stuff on the string was…or the times I spend a whole 5 minutes explaining what to do and then am asked, “What are we supposed to do?” Ah, precious children. During these times that certain thoughts or words come to my mind I am able to control them from falling out of my mouth. However, I think sometimes we don’t think long enough about what words are about to fall out and how they would be taken by another person. Maybe the thoughts aren’t four letter words and we just open up the mouth and think it’s all going to come out fine…and it doesn’t.
When I am asked a question, I am trying to remain quiet…just for a few seconds…until I can gather a kind reply. If it is taking me too long to think of something kind I will go ahead and give a generic reply such as, “Hmm…let me think a minute.”, “Oh, thanks for asking. Can I get back with you on that shortly?”, “I was just on my way to the bathroom and I’ll come see you when I’m done.” The latter is the best one because your can take a little time or a long time, ya know. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:27-28 “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
I challenge you to join me in thinking twice before speaking. Ask yourself, “Is this going to raise someone up or break someone down?” Do they really need to know that my grandmother can cook better chili than what they brought to the work luncheon? If you are like me, you’ve got to get things off your chest so perhaps we can try rephrasing the words. Line them out in our head first. Maybe saying, “Your chili is good. It reminds me of the chili my grandmother used to make.” Yeah, that’s less insulting and encourages your friend that they didn’t do bad.
A few more verses to reference regarding our words are:
Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
James 3: 1-12 “1Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 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. 6 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.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Proverbs 15:4 “The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Join me in my little challenge to give at least one compliment a day to a friend or a stranger! I think we would all be better for it. Winner winner chicken dinner.
JP/Grace and Pink