Growing up, we all heard the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Do we really believe this?? Is this something people told us in hopes that we would just suck it up and not let the words hurt us when harsh talk is thrown our way, or do people really think that words don't hurt? NEWS FLASH: words can hurt, big time!! Words have way more power than we'd sometimes like to admit.
Think about it for a moment. Just 26 letters in the English language can be arranged to form such a diversity in speech. Those same 26 letters that are found in Scripture and can bring someone to God, can be rearranged to hurt someone to the point that they consider (or follow through with) suicide. If that's not proof of the power of words, I don't know what is.
Most, if not all, of us have been bullied or had someone say something that stung a little at some point in our life. We could probably tell you who said what, as well as when and where it happened. But for every hurtful word you can remember, could you name an encouraging or kind word someone has spoken to you recently? For most people, it seems like the harsh words stick around longer than the kind ones. Maybe you've been the one to say harmful words and later apologize. Even so, that doesn't erase what you said. You can't take back your words once they've left your lips.
Words have the power to hurt or to heal. Proverbs 12:18 says just this: "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." That's pretty powerful stuff right there. We know just how important words can be because Scripture talks about it on multiple occasions. And when something is repeated, that usually means the author is trying to get a point across and make sure the readers catch it. The book of Proverbs alone mentions sweet and hurtful words multiple times. Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body." This one is kind of a given... It's not hard to figure out that kind words can make someone feel good. But we know it to be true not only from experience, but because it's Scripture itself.
Proverbs 18:21 flat out says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Did you catch that?? DEATH and LIFE are in the power of the tongue. You possess the power to drive someone to death or life. Take your words seriously, please. Just as Ephesians 4:29 asks of us, "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." If we have the option to build someone up, why would we choose to tear them down instead? You may only get so many words to speak into someone's life, so don't waste your breath. Encourage, edify, build up, compliment, and speak life into someone's heart. Show them the love of Jesus through the words you speak. Help, don't hurt. You never know what kind of influence your words may have on someone's life, so be careful how you choose to arrange those 26 letters.