Have you ever been hurt by a word? Perhaps a parent, friend, or even a total stranger spoke in the heat of a moment and marred your memory with a spoken thought. “You’re stupid.” “You’re just not pretty.” “You can’t do anything right.” “You’re bad.” “You’re no good and you’ll never be any good.” “You’re not worth it.” “You’re fat.” “You’re not worth loving.” “You’re broken and you can’t be fixed.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re no fun.” “You’re not normal.” “You’re…”
When I was a kid we often recited, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” But it was a lie. No matter the temporary damage of the sticks and stones of life, words leave marks on our personal perceptions, sores on our hearts, and scar tissue on our very souls.
If words are so powerful why do we utter them with so little forethought? Why are we so quick to slash and cut with that most deadly weapon – the tongue?
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ gave us the answer,
“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36–37
We strike out at people because of our sin nature. It’s a natural, sinful thing to do.
So, I’ve been thinking about the toothpaste tube. Do you realize it is exactly like your mouth? Try this experiment. Take your toothpaste and squeeze the tube. The stuff oozes out very easily. You don’t have to read any instructions… there’s no trick to it. Just grab the tube, press in, and out the stuff comes. Easy!
Now that you’ve got that pile of goo laying out there for all to see, try getting it back into the tube. Go ahead, try. Once out of the container the paste cannot be put back. That is exactly how a destructive word, spoken in haste, works. Once it’s out – you can’t put it back. The damage has been done. You’ve hurt someone. And that hurt can be a terrible one.
You can apologize. You can make amends. But, it’s out – the person may never forget that little outpouring of thoughtless comments.
So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! James 3:5
With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor… Proverbs 11:9
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; James 3:9
Our only hope is to start each day with a prayer for God’s help. It’s been prayed before,
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.” Isaiah 50:4
For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 1 Peter 3:10
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6
God has created us with the ability of speech to use our mouths for better things than hurting one another.
And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness And Your praise all day long. Psalm 35:28
O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. Psalm 51:15
Take some time as this day begins to ask God’s Holy Spirit to give you the grace to listen to the people in your life and use your gift of speech to uplift, encourage, and bless those around you… including blessing God with prayerful speech of praise and worship. Start that way and you’ll be much more apt to respond to people in your life with God-pleasing love and care.
If you don’t want to spend time in regret and frustration, don’t squeeze the toothpaste tube in the first place. Remember; squeeze a word unto others as you would like them to squeeze unto you.
Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Think about it…