Give me a word, Lord: STICKS AND STONES

Romans 12:17-21 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

There is an old saying that we chanted as children, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” Those words were lies. Yes, it is true that sticks and stones can break bones I suppose if the sticks or stones are big enough, but words, oh my goodness, they can hurt much more than sticks and stones. How many times have we uttered words that we immediately wished that we wouldn’t have spoken? As soon as the words have left our tongues, we want to recall them, reel them back in, take them back. And when others speak hurtful words to us, our bones may not break, but our hearts sure do.

Words can bring life. Words can bring blessings. Words can speak truth, or they can speak lies. Words can bring joy, or they can deliver a death blow. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the tongue can bring death or life, and we see this time and time again. We hear spoken words of scripture and love coming from the same mouths that later speak curse words and evil. We pray and read our Bible, and then we get in traffic behind a crazy driver and we lose our cool. How do we tame the tongue? James tells us that we can not. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. (James 3:7-10).

Yes, my friends, our tongues are wicked, but we can choose to monitor the words that come out of our mouth. We tend to speak from the heart, and if our heart is full of Christ and things of the Lord, the words that we utter will be sweetened with the flavor of Christ. It doesn’t always come easy. Some mornings we roll out of bed, stub our toe after oversleeping because the alarm didn’t go off, rush out the door to get into our car to try to get to work on time only to end up directly behind someone’s 90 year old grandma who decided that this was precisely the right time of day to take a leisurely 30 mph drive. How we handle what just happened sets the tone for the rest of our day. We can either lose our cool and take our anger out on everyone who crosses our path for the rest of the day, or we can thank God for slowing us down. That little old grandma may have been placed in your path to prevent you from being involved in an accident. God may have needed to slow you down so that you could spend a little time talking to Him before your day really gets going. Yes, we can choose to see the hidden blessings. Don’t you see? Our attitude and the words that come out of our mouth is a matter of choice. We get to make the choice. We are in control of our tongue and our attitude. We get to choose. We make the choice!

Today, there will be many opportunities to use your words. We can choose to use our words wisely to further the kingdom, or we can use our words to kill and destroy. Our words can bring hope, strength, and courage, or they can destroy dreams, crush confidence, and really bring someone down. Today and every day we must be mindful that our words have strength. Our words can build up and bless others, or they can break them down. Let us be ever mindful to use words that are seasoned with salt and sweetened with the honey of the Holy Spirit. I’ve often heard the saying, “Is that the same mouth that you kiss your mama with?” This is spoken alluding to the fact that someone is using language that is unbecoming of one’s mother’s presence. We should also ask ourselves, “Is that the same mouth that you are praising God with?” Let us begin each day praying Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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