Proverbs 12:18 18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. This was the phrase we might have cited when we were kids when we were being attacked with mean and hurtful words. The problem with this often-quoted saying is that it’s not true. Like Proverbs 12:18 says, “the words of the reckless pierce like swords…” The wounds of our words and the words others use against us run deep. This is true for the kid on the playground and it’s true for us as adults today.
In America today, it seems that the word civility is being thrown out the window as we jump on to our social media platform of choice and blast those who stand on the opposite side of our beliefs. No longer do we listen, discuss or are even be willing to agree to disagree. At the first opportunity today it is about how we can bully the other person to win or at least discredit (sometimes disparage) our enemy. Enemy is a strong word, but in this day and age, it truly speaks to growing gap of competing ideas in our country today (i.e. Republican/Democrat, Conservative/liberal, Christian/insert any other group etc.). It’s not listen first, but yell first and loudest until the other is drowned out. No wonder Christians today are poorly viewed by other groups because we are no different than the other side.
We can’t change them by harsh and hurtful words or by thinking that using their same tactic against them is justified because it is not (Check out Matthew 5:38,39). If we are truly children of God, we will be peacemakers and it starts with our words.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Really healing in our nations is going to come when we as Christians stop forcing our beliefs on others, mocking our enemies on social media and finding our real alliance is to Christ, not a cause or stand. Christ came to heal and forgive; that was His mission, His purpose, so should it be ours. We should be smart with our words, use words that bring people together, not tear apart.
So how do we do this, where do we start? It begins with a heart check, listening to ourselves and what we say. What are we saying to our spouse, parents, friends, neighbors, strangers and even those who are opposed to our way of thinking? What are we posting and responding to on social media outlets, are we choosing words or being reckless? Invite the Holy Spirit to help us by convicting our hearts when we don’t use the kindest of words.
Second comes confession and repentance. When we take inventory of our words and with the Holy Spirit’s help we begin to see where in our lives we have been reckless. Confession helps us to realize how we have fallen short and how we need God’s grace for change. God cannot only help us to not use hurtful language, but deal with the deeper pain, anger, frustration, etc. that causes us to be reckless in our use of our words.
Finally comes the part of doing. This means we listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and choose our words wisely. “Let no filthy talk be heard from your mouths, but only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment. This way you will administer grace to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” As we choose our words wisely our words will become a source of healing, a building up, an avenue for grace rather than a vehicle our hurt and destruction. Pastor Mart.