“Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?”
Words are some of the most harmful weapons devised. They can cut, scar, change your entire perspective and ruin relationships.
I’ll bet you can recall far more easily hurtful words that have been spoken to you than good ones!
The hurtful words linger and leave nasty scars. Heck, I’m still sensitive about my ears… I can still hear the words of this mean little boy from a life-time ago taunting me about having “elf ears!”
I think we can all agree that words are powerful- they can build up or destroy.
Ever consider how the words you speak might actually be harmful to YOU?
There are both external & internal consequences of the words we speak.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Talk about a struggle! No unwholesome words- ever?
Maybe we don’t all curse, but what about words that teardown, criticize, complain or even using a tone of voice that is negative? All self-destructive and all unwholesome.
Let's look at three areas of self-destructive language:
1. Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain
I hear it all the time, in public, at the workplace, on television; people using God’s name like it was something from a comic book- commonplace, meaningless and derogatory. It mindlessly slips so easily through people’s lips especially in times of anger or frustration.
Sadly, most don’t appreciate the ramifications.
Do you not realize that you are belittling the very creator of the universe- the being that gives you your very next breath? The Jewish people will not even speak God’s name aloud even when reading Scripture because His name is sacred.
It is THAT important!
God's name is holy and the Bible tells us that taking the Lord’s name in vain has consequences…..
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes his name in vain.” –Exodus 20:7
Did you catch that? Punishment.
Instead, let's respect His name and refrain from using it mindlessly.
2. Cursing- Profanity
“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”- George Washington
Boy does this one strike home! Stings to be called foolish, wicked and low. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I know he speaks truth.
The Bible is crystal clear on this topic:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”- Matthew 12:35-36
The words we speak are a reflection of our heart, character and beliefs and one day we will be judged for them!
3. Negative Speech
According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain and impact your health. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, negative words trigger stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain. Negative words increase stress and anxiety and can cause lasting damage to your memory, feelings and emotions. They even argue that habitual use or exposure to negative words can disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction.
Interestingly, the Bible comes to the same conclusion-
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” –Matthew 15:11
Sounds like the recommendation for health is to guard our mind, speech and environment to remove or limit negative words and their impact. For instance: complaining, criticisms, condemnation, worry, gossip, self-deprecation and fear. Got to go!
Words spoken without careful thought-
Hurt others; and
Don't let negative words harm you; instead allow positive words to strengthen you.
Choose carefully, because your words carry lasting ramifications!
Father, please forgive us for words spoken inappropriately. Remove from us all negativity and unwholesome talk. May our words be used to build up others and to magnify your greatness. Words are a powerful blessing, may you always help us to use this gift wisely.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. - Proverbs 18:21