“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”
“I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!”
If I had to guess, you, like me, probably said these and other similar things as a child. Who knows, you may have said it as an adult to. I’m not judging! But, I do have to ask, are these true statements though?
Do stones really hurt more than words?
Do the words someone says to us and about us really just bounce off?
I used to live as though words didn’t matter. In fact, I would take pride in the fact that the words of others didn’t sway me or bother me, and make bold claims that I was impervious to the slanderous attacks of the enemy (people I disagreed with). I would rattle off “truths” in peoples faces, telling them they had no understanding of the Biblical concept of love and truth and then simultaneously call them moron’s, deceived, fools, depraved, and every other derogatory term I could conceive of saying.
The reality was…I didn’t understand the Biblical concept of love and truth.
Did my words really matter? Do the words of others really matter?
I think so. And I think Jesus thought so too…
You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother “idiot!” and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.Matthew 5:21-22 MSG
The Message, if you’re not familiar with it, is a paraphrase bible, but I think it captures the concept pretty well here. Our words do matter, and the words we say in anger matter even more so.
Christians (and pastors especially), we need to be conscious of the words we are using no matter who it is with, how much they may be wrong (or have wronged us), or how frustrated we have become with them.
I have personally witnessed the term “fool”, “moron”, “idot”, and the like thrown around by pastors and Christians alike to describe and even address someone that they disagree with or think they have wronged them. I’ve even done it! (guilty)
I’ve been on the receiving end of it too…in fact, I was once called a fool, and it was then implied that my life was a train wreck just waiting to happen. Then they said they were going to go ahead and grab some popcorn, sit back, and watch the show unfold.
I guess I should’ve simply responded with, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”
But I couldn’t truthfully respond that way…those words hurt…a lot. It hurt my wife too. And if my kids had any understanding of what was said and who it was directed at, and who said them, they would be hurt too.
Can someones behavior and/or words be foolish? Yep! I stick my foot in my mouth a lot (a lot less than I used though, thankfully, but I’m still working on it).
Should we call someone engaging in foolish behavior “fools”? Probably not. And most definitely not out of anger. Jesus goes so far as to say that we are guilty of murder when we do this (yikes!).
We definitely shouldn’t wish ill on someone else’s life just because there is a disagreement between us. If a conflict cannot be resolved (and sometimes it just can’t), then the best course of action is to end the relationship and quietly part ways. But it should never devolve into wishing the other party ill and calling them a fool.
Conclusion? Words matter!
I think they matter…and more importantly, Jesus thinks they matter.
And if they matter to Jesus…then they should matter to us.