...but words can leave scars for a life time!
We're enjoying the TV series "Chuck" at the moment. It's mostly harmless. Though like all modern comedies I find myself roaring with laughter and then thinking, "Should I have really laughed at that?"
Most of the cast work in the "Buy More" electrical store. They are perpetual under performers. One character "Lester" when asked what his problem is replies: "My parents set impossibly high standards."
Words have left him seemingly insecure for life.
Because words are incredibly powerful things. By His word God created the world. By His word God rules his world. By His Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, God saves the world. And as His word is preached God brings people from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of the Son He loves.
That's why word's can both do so much good and so much damage.
My Bible reading this morning had this verse: "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." 2 Timothy 2:23
It's just one out of a shed load of verses about the potential negative effects of words. We love to moan and to gossip and to argue about things that don't matter. We love to put others down behind their backs. We love to be cynical, with the suggestion that if we were in charge, or ran the world, things would be far more efficient.
I was convicted yesterday about my coarse language. That I use words to try and make others believe I'm one of the lads. Bit sad at 46 really!
The real problem isn't our words. It is what they reveal about our hearts. As Jesus said: "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." Luke 6:45
Probably the most common heart attitude that leads to our destructive use of words is self-righteousness. It's interesting that just before Jesus says this, he has been warning people of the hypocrisy of judging others, whilst ignoring our own sin.
Self-righteousness means we look down on others. It's why we complain about the traffic.... whilst sitting in our car. My favourite example of this was a woman who said to me a few years ago, without a hint of irony, "A number of us have been chatting, and we've decided she's a gossip."
What we say can really hurt people. It can disillusion them. It can turn them away from Jesus. Especially when we whinge about the church in front of people who aren't yet Christians and young Christians. Sometimes words can leave scars that never heal.
That's why we should use words to build up. To encourage. To speak of love. To thank. Yes to rebuke where necessary. But most of all to share Christ.
Words that flow out of a humble heart, rooted in the love of God in Jesus.