For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. -James 3:7-12 ESV
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I remember hearing the silly rhyme as a child that claimed "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," and not fully understanding how it could possibly be true.
When I was about six years old, I observed that a certain individual had discolored teeth. So I pointed it out, not to be mean, but just as a six-year old observation. His expression was anything but pleased and my mom quickly pulled me aside saying that my words weren't polite or nice. But they were just words. It's not like I punched him in the face.
I also remember hearing adults express shock at realizing that I am one of six siblings. They would say things like, "Six kids!" or "What were your parents thinking?" and other such lovely and kind things. Words aren't supposed to hurt me though, right? I would pretend to not hear them, or I would just try to make a joke out of it. Yet, these rude and thoughtless remarks always left me feeling like perhaps my family was strange or weird.
These are just some simple example of thoughtless words people say without realizing the impact they have. I didn't even get into the awful things people call each other or the harsh words they spew when angry. Words that once spoken can't ever be retracted and might not ever fully be forgotten.
I think it's safe to say that our words are powerful weapons. I can think of so many instances in my own life when I spoke our in anger and really hurt someone's feelings. Of course I later apologized, but the damage was already done. The Bible never fails to humble me and show me that despite all that I have learned or changed in my life, there is still so much more for me to learn. And I need to remember this every day.
"And He said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'"
-Luke 9:23 ESV
This week I choose to thinking before I speak, and focus on controlling my words. I hope you will too.