Have you heard of that old children's rhyme that says, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" As a kid that was often picked on because of my lack of impressive clothes or due to only having free lunch, my mom would often tell me this. I'm sure in her eyes it was meant to encourage me, but how could I explain to her that sticks and stones felt just as bad as the words people would say? Including some of the words that even left her mouth?
In scripture, James mentions the power of words. How words are like the rudder of a ship or the small bit in a horse's mouth. Regardless of their small size, they have great impact. And just as the rudder of a ship determines it's direction, words can also determine the shape of someone else's world. I mean in Hebrews, scripture tells us that words shaped the world we live in. So it begs me to ask the question lingering in everyone's mind, will words never hurt?
Truth is, many of our worlds became shaped by what others have either said or thought about us. Let's not forget to add ourselves in there too. What comes with this is a deep hidden emotional trauma that can be best dressed in the form of insecurities. As much as we would try and dismiss the power of someone else's words, the truth is words have real power. They both shape and alter reality. Proverbs 18:21 even says that life and death is in the power of the tongue.
With this knowledge about the power of words, what then can we do? Just as you see what items float around your room, you need to analyze the words that make up your world. Are they reflective of what God says or what people say?
Though sticks and stones may break your bones, words have more power than that.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
James 3:3-5 NIV
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
Hebrews 11:3 NIV
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18:21 NIV
Reflection Question(s): We invite you to discuss below.
What were some words spoken to you that really hurt you? Who spoke them to you? How did those words alter your reality? Knowing what you know now, how can you use words to renew your reality? What will you say about yourself? What does God say?