Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!
I’m rubber, your glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!
I know you are but what am I?
Talk to the hand, ‘cause the face isn’t listening!
Childhood rhymes, all with a similar, overarching theme. They are uttered by children as a way to protect themselves against harsh words. As we follow the advice in 1 Corinthians 13:11b, when I became a man I put away childish things, we stop saying such rhymes as we grow up, as we have discovered other ways of dealing with harsh words, but the lessons those rhymes taught often remain - we must protect ourselves from harsh words.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:3-9, ESV)
We may like to deny it, or even ignore it and bury it, but words have power! Words can hurt and empower, words can destroy and create, words can motivate and manipulate, words can teach and instruct, words can heal and reveal. Words have power! Far more power than is often credited to them.
Mastering our tongue - our words - is one of the most difficult things to do. James argues that it is impossible. We cannot tame our tongue with a bit, as we would a horse. A rider uses a bit to guide a horse, just as a rudder steers a ship. So to, do our words, offered through one of our smallest, yet mightiest muscles, guide our actions, our attitudes, and our direction in life. Words have power! And it is a constant battle to maintain control over them. But it is not a battle in vain! It pleases the Lord and, when won, we use our tongue to glorify Him!
The Lord remembers our words, just as we do. We all remember that cutting insult made towards us. We may have laughed it off, outwardly pretended we did not care, but the insult lasted. Years later those words still affect part of your life.
On the flip side, we all remember that person in our lives who motivated and encouraged us. That person who made us strive for more, become someone better than who we were. Years later those words still affect part of your life.
How have words made you the person you are today?
Throughout 2018, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries is going to examine the Power of Words, both good and bad. We will post our first study on January 7, 2018. Beginning in February, we will post a new study on the first of each month. The studies will include examples from the Bible and recent events to show that words have always held power and continue to do so! During this study, we challenge you to examine your own words and reflect upon the power your words are exerting!
Words have power!