“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Remember that one? Well, nothing was ever farther from the truth. For, words possess great power. They wound or heal; they save or destroy – great power!
Cecil and my brother Paul first met on the telephone. Cecil called to ask Paul to perform our wedding ceremony. Paul had been a pastor for close to sixty years and had performed nine million weddings, so we figured he was the one to tie our knot, not that we ever intended to untie it.
As a part of the ceremony, my brother shared with us a few words of advice. I really don’t remember most of what he said, but one word of admonition made a lasting impression.
“Don’t ever say anything at the expense of your spouse,” he counseled. “That is pure meanness.”
I tried so hard to live by that advice. I never wanted to hurt or belittle Cecil. You see, I know myself.
I know that I am sometimes prone to poke a little fun or call attention to another’s weakness. It’s only words after all. It’s just a joke. But when I examine my motives, I’m not always pleased at what I find. People sometimes say, “You never have to wonder what Fayrene is thinking.” I have decided that is not necessarily a compliment.
At Bible study, one day, a lady came in, piled all of her knitting supplies on one chair, and pulled out another to sit in. I saw another gal looking for a place to sit, so I said to the knitting lady, “Can you move your stuff? So and so needs a seat.” She ignored me, so I asked her again.
“I heard you,” she replied.
“Well, do it.” I said thinking that I was being funny and cute.
She did it! She picked up her stuff and left never to return again.
An apology did not help. I have never been able to shrug off that one.
Does your mouth ever get you into trouble? Do you ever say something in the moment that you later regret? We all do, I fear.
The Apostle James says, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, in perfect control of his life.”
The tongue, our tongue, is a little member of the body, but it can create great havoc when not controlled.
James 3:5-6, “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”
James 3:7-10, “This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongue we bless God our Father; with the same tongue we curse the very men and women He made in His own image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth.” WOW!!!
During the Second World War, Americans were warned that “LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS!” It is amazing the damage we can do with our tongue.
I can hardly contain my laughter when I read the story of the fall of the wall of Jericho. In Joshua chapter 6, Joshua gives the Israelites directions for their march around the wall. In verse 10, he says, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, DO NOT SAY ONE WORD until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”
“DO NOT SAY ONE WORD!”
Jericho was not a large town covering only about nine acres. None the less, can you imagine the people of Israel marching thirteen times around that city without saying one word? It must have been the effort of a lifetime for most of them. That seems to me a greater miracle than the fall of the wall. I have no doubt that had they been careless in their speech, as they marched, the victory would not have been realized.
God’s Word gives us some good and simple advice.
Matthew 5:37, “…Just say ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”
James 5:12, “Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way your language can’t be used against you.”
We would do well to adopt David’s prayer found in Psalm 19:14. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable, in your sight, O Lord my Strength, and my Redeemer.
That wouldn’t be a bad way to start the day!
REMEMBER, WE WANT THE SON TO SHINE UPON US.