God makes it very clear that we need to be very careful what we say to other people. It is not kidding in the least to say that we can hurt other people much more with our words than we can with weapons.
James 3:9-10 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”
What is James telling us here? It goes something like this – we go to church on Sundays and praise and worship God with the same exact tongue that we gossip about people with the rest of the week. We are so very quick to say things to people that will hurt their feelings without even thinking about it.
As a counselor I can tell you that I have spoken to far too many children whose parents have scarred them deeply with words like “You are stupid,” “You will never amount to anything,” “Why can’t you be more like your brother or your sister,” and even this one, “I wish you were never born.”
It may not seem like saying these things when we are mad or upset could really do much damage, but let me tell you it does. I have spoken with 40 year old people who are still absolutely devastated by what their parents said to them when they were little. In psychology, I was taught that their is a mental issue called “emotional growth hindrance” which means that some children will physically stop growing emotionally if they receive too much mental abuse. This means even though they may grow to be 50 years old, emotionally they are still at the same age as they were when they were emotionally abused.
I know that it is easy to get upset with other people. Even Jesus got upset with others, but not once did He use His words to hurt others, and neither should we. I always coach people that when they feel like they are about to say something mean to someone else, it is best to simply tell the other person that you are feeling out of control and that you are going to walk away until you can calm down. This will allow you to gather yourself before you say something that you wish you had not. Always remember this – you can never “unhear” anything. You may tell someone you did not mean what you said, but the fact is you said it and they can never “unhear” it. And they will truly never forget it either. They may forgive you, but they are human and they cannot truly forget it.
The power of words is much larger than we can even imagine. Instead of hurting others, let’s use our words to build others up. To help others when they are in need. To let people know how much they mean to us and how much we love them. Even a simple, “Thank you” when someone does something for you can go so very far to build them up. You never know how what you say is going to affect other people. I once had a total stranger come up to me and thank me and I had no clue why they were thanking me. I asked them why and they told me, “You were the first person all day who said ‘Thank you’ to me and I have been working for over 10 hours.” How very sad that is that no one took the 5 seconds it takes just to say ‘Thank you” to someone else.
Jesus teaches us that it is better to remain totally quiet than it is to say harsh to others. After all, quiet never hurts anyone, but hurtful words can destroy other people. Be a builder of people. Spend your words wisely and use them in love.
Pastor Brad Komgenick