Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. Really?! How about telling the truth? Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words can hurt me for a long time. The saying provides a simple truth: not only can inappropriate actions damage relationships with others – unkind words from our mouth and typing fingertips can destroy relationships with others. For some crazy reason we don’t place the same “price tag” on hurtful words as we do on hurtful actions.
I love what God’s word says in 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.” Much of Ephesians 4 is about unity; in fact, Paul’s very first instructions on Christian living in this letter address preserving the unity the Holy Spirit created by treating others with humility and love. I’m confident all of us wish we could take back some things we’ve said to others over the years; however, some of the things posted on social media (BY CHRISTIANS!!!) blow my mind. People are reckless and don’t take time to think about how their ‘important opinion’ will insult people who have a different viewpoint. Is stating your position really that important and necessary? Is it worth the loss of a relationship? Is what you want to share so valuable that you’re willing to ruin your influence with someone that you might have helped come to know Jesus better because you felt it was more important for them to know your position on some lesser matter? Hopefully we learn and keep growing to more Christ-like communication and keep asking for forgiveness along the way.
Here’s a snippet from my recent sermon on Philippians 4:8-9 seasoned with a dash of sarcasm to make it easier to digest:
NASB (New American Standard Bible) – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you…I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
OJV – (Opposite Jesus Version) – Finally, brethren, whatever is hurtful, whatever is political, whatever is divisive, whatever is insensitive to the feelings of others, whatever is controversial, whatever is destructive, whatever is negative, if anything is able to cause conflict/discord, vomit that poison on social media like cancer to instigate as much animosity as you can. Let your mind dwell in the gutter rather than on the good news of Jesus, and the curse of Satan will pollute/pervert your Christian heart…I can justify saying/doing all sorts of damaging things through Satan who weakens me.
Catch the entire July 19, 2020 sermon at jesus-place.org. Read Matthew 12:36; James 3:1-18 and then listen to The Words I Would Say – Sidewalk Prophets.
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
Taming the Tongue
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 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.
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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.