Words hurt. We all agree with that because more likely than not you’ve experienced a moment in your life where someones words caused you heartache. For some, family members have left them with deep scars from verbal assaults. Others have strong insecurities rooted in words from friends. Recently I’ve encountered a couple of situations that reminded me of the pain our own words can cause, even when it is unintentional.
There are moments when I like to make a quick remark, sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are not. Often my comments are in good fun and most people know me so they don’t take it personally. Every now and then a comment goes too far. When this happens, I usually know it, or at least I hope I do. Not too long ago I made such a comment. It was both truthful and funny, but it also insulting (because of its truthfulness) and didn’t need to be said.
Thankfully, the individual didn’t hear me and no harm was caused. How often do we say things in jest, but it really hurts the other perso? Jokes at the expense of someone else can be funny, but we never really know how the other person will receive it. They might laugh now and later go home and cry.
Am I suggesting we shouldn’t joke? No! But we should make every effort to choose our words with care, and maybe consider if it needs to be said. Always consider other people. Will the conversation we are having leave them feeling built up or torn down?
Another way words can unintentionally hurt is when we pass along information. We love hearing new information about people. We are genuinely interested in the lives of others and when something monumental happens good or bad we like to talk about it. We know it is harmful when it is bad, but we sometimes do it anyway. However, even passing along good news can be hurtful. Sometimes what you heard isn’t true.
I don’t know how non-truths get passed around. Maybe someone intentionally started the rumor with a lie. Perhaps someone read into a situation and passed on what they thought was happening. Either way I think we have a responsibility to find out if something is true before spreading it around. Or ya know, not spread it around.
There are times we assume that people don’t mind and if that’s the case then it’s ok I guess, as long as you know from the source the correct information and that they are for sure ok with you telling people. And if we have to go through all that before passing on the information, most of the time we would just not bother. Maybe that’s my point.
Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
We must remember that words have the power to hurt. Our words are never just words. They have the power to build up and they have the power to destroy. We must never forget to think before we speak.
Proverbs 15:28 (NLT) The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.
Our words are not just here one minute and gone the next minute. They can stay with the hearer for a very long time. Beyond that, our words even echo into eternity.
Matthew 12:36 (NLT) And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.
The part that sticks out to me is IDLE WORDS. The things we say when we aren’t really thinking about what we are saying. Sometimes they can be the most devastating. We don’t always have bad intentions, but that doesn’t mean our words are without consequences. Our words matter, always.