The power of our words has the capability of bringing injury to the soul. There is an old saying that most of us have heard at some point in our lives: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Bologna!
There are some people who pride themselves as having thick skin and probably throw their words around carelessly, saying, "Come on, get a grip. They're just words." But what comes out of our lips has the strength to burn, stab, and poison the soul of anyone we speak to. Good for you if you have thick skin, but the word of God makes it clear that most people are negatively affected by harsh words.
And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. … no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:6-8, HCSB
We cannot tame someone else's tongue. They have to choose to tame their own tongues or God has to help them. But if they come to understand just what the power of their words can do to harm others, maybe that is the first step for them. The following verses reveal how our rudeness, sarcasm, belittling, insults, mockeries, backbiting, and verbal abuse affects others:
An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire. – Proverbs 16:27, NKJV
the wicked… sharpen their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words, that they may shoot in secret at the blameless. – Psalm 64:2-4a, NKJV
A man who gives false testimony against his neighbor is like a club, a sword, or a sharp arrow. – Proverbs 25:18, WEB
evil men…violent men …make their tongues as sharp as a snake’s bite; viper’s venom is under their lips. Selah – Psalm 140:1-3, HCSB
Yes…words hurt! They burn us! They stab us! They poison us! The mean words that others speak to us or about us behind our backs has the potential of changing who we are as a person because of the conflict that arises because of it or the emotional pain it inflicts upon our hearts. How we view our own images, and how others view us, can be shaped and determined by what other people speak to us–or about us to others.
So we all need to think before we speak. That's another great saying most of us have heard. The power of our words has the potential of producing two outcomes on the people that we communicate with–to harm or to benefit.
There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. – Proverbs 12:18, NKJV
A gentle answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1, GW
Do you want to inflict wounds on people's souls or be responsible for bringing them a healthier view of themselves? Do you want to speak harshly to people and stir up their anger or speak with gentleness so you can keep the peace? We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. Harsh words is not what love is.
Verbal abuse is the most extreme form of belittling others with our words. People's souls can be ripped apart by the callous ridicule they receive from a spouse, other family members, friends, a coworker, or a classmate. But simple rudeness, sarcasm, and insults can also puncture the heart and result in broken images or broken relationships.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words will also hurt me!
The next article is available now: The inescapable power of words IX, the cause of self-inflicted wounds