Watch Your Words

Here is a Bible verse you probably haven’t paid much attention to. It’s Proverbs 12:18. It says, “There is one who’s rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Here is a bit of childhood wisdom you have considered. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Can I say something obvious? Both of those statements cannot be true. One says words don’t matter; they’re harmless and painless. The other says words give horrific wounds.

I’m saying this because as I pay attention to the current world we live in and as I read some of the words that you—yes, members of this church—post, I have realized I need to used my words to caution you.

We are living in a pandemic of wildly hurtful words. Disagree with someone? Say the most vile things about them you can think of. Stab. Thrust the sword in. Twist it. Disagree? Deny it? Get on Twitter. Turn on your favorite news channel. Or just listen to people talk about our nation. Why is this happening? It’s simple. You are being discipled. You chose who you trust. You listen to them. You become like them. Oh but we can say, “That’s just the way they are. It’s not a big deal.” That’s just another way of saying “sticks and stones.” What we say matters. Tell the truth, yes, but how we tell it matters.

Think not? James disagrees. Listen to what he says in chapter three of his letter, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!” By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony into chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

Not enough? James isn’t finished. “The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings from the same mouth. My friends, this cannot go on.”

And even before that he said, “Anyone who considers himself “religious” and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue is deceiving himself and his “religion” is worthless.”

I’m sure people who talk like this just think they are “telling it like it is,” but more than that they are sowing seeds. What kind of seeds? Look around. What is the fruit of their words? Is the world we live in more harmonious? Or is it going up in smoke? You may think how we talk to one another has nothing to do with the state of our world, but James disagrees. Go up two paragraphs and read again. He said we can ruin the whole world and send it up in flames.

And we can go up in smoke with it. Know how that works? In two ways. Whenever we decide that a scorched earth policy is the best way to deal with our enemies, we guarantee that when they come into power, and they will, they will do to us what we have done to them. It’s the ungolden rule. But there’s another way this works too, and this is something Jesus taught us. Jesus said, “On the day of judgement, people will answer for every careless word they have spoken.” Every last one.

When you post, think. When you speak, think. The people you are speaking about are not your enemies. Don’t treat them as such. The Devil is your enemy, and he tries only to divide. Don’t do his work for him