Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Most of us heard this as a child. And to a certain degree it is true. We should teach our children not to be crushed when someone else can't control their tongue.
But words are powerful. We can use them to build people up or tear them down. When someone does not control their tongue, it can hurt. If it is someone who is close to us it can hurt quite deeply.
The Bible warns us over and over to control our tongues. Here are a few from Proverbs:
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.He who holds his tongue is wise. A fool delights in airing his opinions.
Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 17:27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (28) Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Psalms 17:3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.
Here in America we have a culture that is constantly screaming, EXPRESS YOURSELF. Be yourself, you are a great. Let it out. We have culture that is always asking "What do you think and how do you feel?"
As a result, we now have an entire nation of people who seem to feel that they are always entitled to freely express their opinion.
But is this how we are act as Christians? I don't think so.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
So how do we handle it when words hurt?
This past Sunday I was hurt very deeply by the words of someone who I have known my entire life. This is a person who I have a lot of respect for as an older Christian woman and I truly love as a sister in Christ.
I'm certain that she never meant to hurt me with her words, but she did. I actually burst into tears right there in the fellowship hall in front of many people.
I have struggled the last several days with how to handle this. I have searched the Scriptures and prayed about it.
Here's what I found:
Colossians 3:12,13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
When words hurt, we must forgive. We must hold our own tongues. And though our flesh may want to bite back we must strive to respond with gentleness and humility. A gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).
Yes, I have forgiven her. We all fall short. There have been many times when I have lost control of my tongue. Sometimes I hear words come out of my mouth that I immediately wish I could have back.
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.
What do we do when we have lost control of our tongues? Confess to God. Apologize to the one you hurt and seek forgiveness.
God is faithful and will give us the grace we need to exercise self-control and tame our tongues.
After I wrote this post our Pastor called me into his office. The incident had been brought to his attention by people who had witnessed it. I must admit, I was quite relieved to hear that our pastor will be handling this situation. Please pray that our relationship will be restored.