“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This is what my friends and I used to say to each other when we were young. We often responded this way after someone had said something that was calculated to anger or belittle us.
But we were so wrong. Our words do have power. They can and often do hurt.
Actually, I have seen two sides of the power of words. As a preacher, I have seen the power of words to encourage and to edify others. That’s one of my objectives every time I stand up to preach the Word of God before His people. Occasionally, people do share with me how the words I have spoken in the pulpit have positively ministered to them. Sometimes the impact they convey is so profound that the words of their testimony in turn encourage me to continue what I do.
Then I have seen the power of words to tear down people. What sometimes amazes me is when I hear a mother verbally abusing her little child out in public. She may think her words are merely words. But when you keep telling a little child how worthless he is, and you regularly bombard him with foul language, these words leave scars that sometimes last a lifetime. Moreover, most of us, I believe, personally know the destructive power of words because we have been the purveyor and/or the recipient of such words.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” the Bible says (Proverbs 18:21). That means we can use our tongue either as a means of enriching the lives of others, or to do the exact opposite. Obviously, God’s will is that we choose the former over the latter.
For some people, even among those who say they are Christians, making this choice is much easier said than done. Not because they don’t have it in them to impart life-giving words to others. Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue. We have both. But if we have spent our lives being negative and finding fault with everything and everybody, we need to renew our thinking in this regard. The love and faith and hope and confidence that Christ has put on the inside of us should flow out of us and minister to those whom we come in contact with each day.
So from this day forward, let us use the power of our words for good and not for evil.