Sticks and Stones

December 27, 2010


“Sticks and stones will break by bones, but words will never hurt me.”

A nice childhood rhyme; An injurious falsehood.

Words never hurt? I think most of us would agree that just isn’t true. Sometimes, they hurt worse. Bones heal. Hurtful words, especially those spoken by those closest to us, those most cherished, take much longer to heal. For some, those wounds never heal.

Experientially I can speak of this. I can recite many instances where words hurt far worse than physical infliction and took far longer to heal. I have close friends who can say the same. Some have not yet healed.

But don’t take my word for it, hear what the Authority has to say on this subject:

  • “The words of the reckless pierce like swords.”
  • “A perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
  • “The tongue has the power of life and death.”
  • “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
  • “A crowd of unfaithful people…make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies.”
  • “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them.”
  • “Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.”
  • “I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.”
  • “They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.”
  • “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

That: A small sampling regarding the power of the tongue; the power of “mere” words from one human being spoken to another. A WEAPON.

I have heard, very recently, a good friend tell of a “joke” about him that, when told in a crowd of intimates, is merrily received. It is oft repeated. And my friend laughs, hollowly. Yet this “joke” is hurtful, far more than any of the tellers could know. Yet it goes on. And the wound grows.

Because of this, I see why God instructs His creation (us humans) against “coarse joking” and perverse speech:

  • “From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.”
  • “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
  • “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

Perhaps some of the world’s ills, certainly some of the ills in our local communities and social circles, could be cured by the simple discipline of keeping our mouths shut.

Maybe it’s not easy because we are SO proud. AND selfish. And it’s “all about me.”  I am as guilty as the next: “Go along to get along.” But when it happens, I feel a stab—that stab of a knife thrown but ricocheted. Perhaps I am becoming more sensitive. Praise God.

But what would be the harm if we ALL tried not saying anything disparaging against another? What could change? In families, in politics, in church, in schools, in national and international conflict? I am just asking. It’s a question that shouldn’t be ignored.

A “Snark Free Week.” I’ll lobby for that.


One comment

  1. Agreed. I and many friends and family have been devastated by words. I am as guilty as the next but truly I try hard not to hurt others with my words because I know how it hurts. I’m in.

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