Do you know that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”? I think sometimes it is easy to forget that the opposite is actually true. In Matthew 10:28 we are exhorted to not fear that which can only kill our bodies, instead, fear that which can kill both body and soul. Bodies are just bodies. Like Jesus, we will be raised again. We bruise, we break and eventually our bodies will die — but remember your soul doesn’t die along with your body. They are connected, but one is far more precious than the other.
So what should we fear? What can harm our souls? In Matthew 15:11, Jesus states that what goes into a man’s mouth isn’t what defiles him, but that which comes out. This truth is also found in James 3:6,
“And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.”
You can also hear this echoed in Proverbs,“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (13:3), “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” (18:7), “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (18:21).
Words bring life and death, my friends. Only sometimes to physical bodies, but words always effect our souls. So how should we protect ourselves? What can keep our souls safe?
“What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:12-14
Did you catch that? If you want to live, if you want many days, if you want to see goodness — watch your tongue and keep your lips under control. Oh how careful I am to buckle my seatbelt, to look both ways before crossing the street! How much time have I spent in pursuit of keeping my body well, vitamins, food, exercise. Only to blurt out unkindness to my children. How often have my complaints torn down my husband’s spirit? All those times my thoughtless comments wounded dear friends.
Think about your words (not remember someone elses’) — what have you said? What did you type? Did you reflect a holy pursuit of peace? Did your words encourage fleeing from evil? Were you doing good? Did you bring life or did you harm to their souls?
The words we speak, the words we type, they have power. Words are a weapon. Be careful. Know how to use them. Intentionally devote time to practice. Seek wisdom on when and how to speak. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Words heard (and read) cannot be undone. Once they have been heard and seen, you cannot retract them. The delete button is nice, but it doesn’t erase what was written in the heart and mind of those who already read it. Forgiveness is at hand, but only the humble may obtain it. Sticks and stones only break bones, but words have the power to destroy souls.
Lord, keep us from cutting down the righteous and harming the innocent.
Lord, teach us, instead, to fight for them. Teach us to protect them.
Help us bring life to others and glory to You.