4 A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook. (Proverbs 18:4)
14 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed? (Proverbs 18:14)
20 Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction. (Proverbs 18:20)
21 Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life. (Proverbs 18:21)
The Daily DAVEotional
When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my parents invited some friends over to the house. They had kids who were about the same age as me and my brother so while my parents were entertaining their guests, we were hanging out as a group of kids.
I’m the youngest in my family and was always very small for my age. As a result, I was often teased by older kids and even peers for being small.
I vividly remember being teased in this setting. Though I don’t remember the exact nature of the teasing, I do remember going to my mother and telling her that the other kids were making fun of me.
Her response was the classic line, “You tell them that ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.’”
I soon learned that this phrase was a stock response to schoolyard bullying and verbal jabs and I used it frequently, until of course, I discovered more sophisticated ways of responding to the insults of others, such as the mocking “Neener, neener” and the classic “I know you are but what am I”.
The problem with the “Sticks and Stones” phrase is that it’s not true.
Of course there’s an element of truth to the saying. Yes, words cannot inflict physical damage on our bodies. But as Proverbs 18 shows, our words can bring life and healing to others OR they can wound or kill others.
The phrase disregards the sensitive nature of our emotions and our spirit.
Think about it. Our bodies have an immune system which fights off infections when we are sick.
Our bodies also have a repair system that kicks in when we are injured. An open wound will heal and even broken or fractured bones will heal themselves, though obviously, compound fractures may require special setting in order for proper healing to take place.
We don’t have an emotional immune system though to repair our minds when we are discouraged or damaged emotionally. We can carry the scars and wounds of emotional trauma for years.
We live in a culture where we can instantly communicate with just about anyone we want, and with social media, our words have an extensive reach that was unthinkable even 20 or 30 years ago.
There is a lot of anger and vitriol these days, especially on Social media platforms. Personally, I need constant reminders of the power of my words so that I don’t give in to the temptation to berate and belittle others, with no regard for the impact it has on them.
Think of a time when you were teased as a kid? How did it make you feel? What emotions and thoughts do you have now as you remember that experience?
When is a time when your words wounded another person? What did you say? Have you asked for forgiveness and reconciled with that person?
When was a time when someone gave you life-giving words that nourished your soul? What was the context and in what ways did those words lift your spirit?
What has been your experience with your words on social media? What steps can you take to ensure that your words on social media are life-giving and not wounding or harming others?