I was six years old, playing on the playground the first time I remember someone calling me a mean name. Like any 6-year-old would do, I went and told my teacher to be met with the advice to respond with “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
At the time, the advice my teacher gave provided me the courage to go play again. However, the truth is words still hurt; at times, words hurt worse than sticks and stones ever could. Sticks and stones may break bones or leave bruises, but words pierce hearts.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
This verse directly opposes the advice my teacher gave me. Not only can words hurt. Words hold life and death.
As Christians, we must understand this truth. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Our words hold weight; our words matter. In Matthew 12, Jesus says that we will give account for every careless word we speak. Unfortunately, words are often said carelessly in a world where words give life and death.
In order to speak life, we must focus on encouraging others and building others up in righteousness (1 Thessalonians 5:11). With this knowledge; it is important to find words that cause death and cut them out of our lives. Do away with all unwholesome talk and gossip (Ephesians 4:16).
In what ways can you take practical steps to speak life to someone today? When we leave a conversation with someone, we should make sure they are encouraged and built up in righteousness. Far too often, we leave conversations, leaving people feeling defeated and beaten down. The more we realize that our words matter, the better off we will be, and others will be.