Sticks and Stones...
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” What a lie. The person who came up with this catchphrase, was either in deep denial in regards to a personal hurt, or searching for a reason to justify their wicked behavior. The truth is: language is powerful. Adolf Hitler was quoted as saying, “Particularly the broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech.” The people who master language can wield the power to move a nation.
As I scroll through my Twitter and my Facebook posts, it becomes more apparent that people may not realize how powerful their words can be. It is possible for someone to be very knowledgeable about a particular subject matter, and yet still be ignorant about the power of their choice of words. Language is powerful, but ignorance is dangerous. The only thing that I find more dangerous than ignorance is defiance. To have the understanding that your words are powerful, and yet make the choice to use them for destruction is pure evil, especially for someone who professes Christianity.
Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words (NLT)”. To “think carefully” in ancient Hebrew is the word, “hagah”, and that means to “growl or moan”. This is referring to the sound that a person makes when they are thinking or meditating. In other words, people who profess Christianity, should take the necessary time to think very carefully about what comes out of their mouths. Christians should be aware that language is powerful, and they should ponder before they speak. Proverbs 18:21 states, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (NIV)”.
With the advent of social media, we have witnessed the dawning of a new age of “freedom of speech” and language usage. Personal ideas are easily accessible and transferable. News coverage can occur in the blink of an eye. The information age is moving and progressing at “warp” speed. With this new-found power, I am witnessing a greater divide among people. Our love of language is not bringing us together, instead, it is dividing us further apart...especially in the church. I have seen social issues such as race, political affiliation, pro-choice vs. pro-life, sexual identity, and immigration divide the greater Christian community in ways I've
never seen before. Each and every one of these issues are quite complex and yet I’ve witnessed believers and church leaders treat these issues with either little thought, or fueled by a personal, spiritual opinion or bias. Is it possible for a believer to be motivated by a personal, spiritual opinion or bias? Of course. Christians are still human beings that are vulnerable to perceptions and preferences. Perhaps, that is why the scripture states in Colossians 4:5,6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (NASB)”. When you speak to your spouse this morning, make sure you season it with grace. When you speak to your boss or co-worker today, make sure you season it with grace. When your child forgets to do what they are supposed to do, make sure your words are seasoned with grace. When that lovely individual steals your parking space today, make sure your words (and fingers) are seasoned with grace. When you are about to get into that argument (or discussion) about systemic racism...don’t forget...season it with grace.
Now that’s Good Word!