Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
This is one of the big lies we grow up learning. It is taught to us so that we can deflect hateful speech, criticism, and bullying words. But really they do hurt.
We have the capacity to build up or tear down with our words. I know this for certain. I have built up and torn down many people by the things I have said. It is easy to tear down someone else when there is something wrong with yourself. That’s the thing we usually don’t understand – that inherently, there is something wrong with us.
I have a very difficult time listening to people talk politics. For the most part, when people talk politics they often tear down people on the other side of their political stance. It is the way to prove rightness (or leftness). By speaking about what is wrong with someone else, it draws attention away from anything that is right. That’s why most political ads warns us all about the other side… They understand the subconscious effect on the mind so they market towards that area. I especially get disappointed when I hear a supposedly “Christian” politician doing the exact thing.
In Genesis, God breathed into man air for him to have life. Sometimes the air we breathe out is not the same.
We have a tendency to see other people how we see ourselves. If we are struggling with who we are, we will struggle with how others are. If we are engulfed in bad behavior, we will have the tendency to see other people in the same way. If we see ourselves as desperately needing Jesus, we will look at others the same way. So the words we say about other people will be reflective to what is going on inside of us.
So how do we get out of the funk of talking down or degrading other people?
Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?” He answered: to love God with everything you are and have. This precedes the second commandment, which He said was to “love your neighbor as yourself.” If we do not love God with our entire being… with everything we have, we cannot possibly love our neighbor. And if we do not love ourselves (not to be confused with a self-centered focus), we will love our neighbor in the same manner. If we will see that God has done everything for us so that we may be saved, even though we don’t deserve it, we will love God with our total existence. We will see the unconditional love that He has for us and see ourselves how He see us… as precious pearls in a field (Matthew 13:45-46). When we see that picture, we will respect and love ourselves in a manner that is relative to God’s love for us and therefore we will “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
So the solution to the problem is not watching our words, but looking to Jesus.
Lord, help me to love You. Lord, help me to see Your love for me. Lord, help me to love others in a manner that is reflective of You. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”
“See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” James 3:1-12