The power of our words
Perhaps you’ve heard of that saying, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. It’s a common saying in school playgrounds. Whilst it’s memorable, it’s not accurate. The saying should go, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can hurt, wound, and scar me’. Our words matter and have incredible power to inflict damage.
All of us have seen first-hand the devastating effects of words. It may be in a toxic culture in your workplace: the difficult politics and rivalries; words spoken which don’t just seek to undermine someone, but destroy their reputation. It could be words spoken within the home: a flippant comment about how your spouse looks, the constant teasing by a sibling, the snide feedback from an in-law.
Our words matter and have incredible power to inflict damage.
Nowadays, we increasingly see the abrasiveness of words online. Social media doesn’t come with the constraints of physical context (body language, tone of voice), nor does it always come in the framework of established relationships. Our words online can be less filtered, less inclined to nuance and sensitivity, and thus more easily misunderstood or prone to offense.
This Sunday, in our continuing study of the Book of James, we’ll be thinking about our words. James says, ‘no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison’ (3:8). Real faith will be seen in our desire to tame our words, to use our words for good rather than for harm.
Like many aspects of the Christian walk, controlling our speech is a life-long battle. Maybe in reflecting on a conversation you’ve thought, ‘Why did I say that? I can see why she was upset by what I said. I wish I could unsay those words.’ As James says, ‘We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check’ (3:2).
As you prepare for this Sunday’s teaching, perhaps you can reflect on your use of words. Ask yourself some diagnostic questions. In what situations are your words more likely to be hurtful? How can you filter your words more effectively so that you can speak ‘the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15) to others? How do your words show what’s in your heart?
In the last week, I’ve noticed more heat than usual in online discourse. Think of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade, or the debate over transgender in sport, or closer to home, the political changes in our city. Sometimes we get in arguments. We feel...
Five years ago, I joined the Youth Ministry team as the leader for the 14 and 15-year-old girls at the 9:30am service. Watching that group mature into the university students they now are, has been such a blessing. Since then, I have known many more students and...
I was born into a Christian family, but that does not in any way qualify me as a child of God. Since I was young, I knew the so-called appropriate words to say in prayers and the rules to follow in church, but deep down, I disliked the idea of being “bound by”...
If you would like to learn more about what’s happening in our community, receive stories, scripture reading, prayer points and catch up on previous sermons, click to subscribe.