Sticks and Stones

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. – James 3:8

How many of you remember the old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”? Is that true? If there’s anything we’ve learned thus far, it’s that words have the power to move mountains, so it gives us pause to reconsider the truth of this childhood phrase. I don’t know about you, but being called a name hurts, especially when it comes from someone we love and trust. When a father calls his son “stupid” or a mother calls her daughter “fat,” and does so over many years, the child’s self-worth becomes damaged and recovery often takes years.

Such bad-mouthing is not limited to children, either. Many of you have been belittled by a boss, a spouse, or even a pastor, I am sad to say. It is true that the tongue is full of deadly poison and just as we learned about how kind words serve to heal people, unkind words serve to destroy them.

But, we do not have the power to tame such a destroyer. Only through full submission to the Holy Spirit can we hope to transform the quality of our language and begin to speak life instead of death.