Summary: In this first sermon in the series, we focus on the power of words to heal or to hurt.
A. Today, we are beginning a new sermon series that I am calling: “Speak Life – Speaking Words that Heal, Not Hurt.”
1. If your tongue has ever gotten you into trouble, then please raise your hand.
2. Now turn to the person next to you and say, “I’m not surprised!”
3. We are not surprised, because it happens to all of us.
4. All of us have had the experience of saying something, and then wishing we had not said it!
B. I heard the story of a man who worked at a produce department of a grocery store.
1. A woman came up and asked if she could buy half a head of lettuce.
2. It had been one of those days, and before he could think he replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”
3. The lady responded, “You mean that after all the years I have shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”
4. “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated.
5. So, the man marched away to find the manager and when he found him said, “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-brained idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”
6. As he was saying that, he noticed that the manager was trying to subtly stop his outburst.
7. The crazed worker turned around to see the lady standing behind him. Unbeknown to him, she had followed him as he searched for the manager.
8. But without skipping a beat, the worker said to the manager, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half of the head of lettuce.”
9. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that skill?”
10. The worker replied, “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for to things: its great hockey teams and its ugly women…”
11. But before the worker could proceed with his explanation the manager interrupted him, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!”
12. The worker quickly asked, “And which hockey team did she play for?”
C. Oh, how our tongues can get us into trouble!
1. If my mother said it once, she said it a thousand times, “THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!”
2. Every day, you and I speak thousands of words, between 25,000 and 40,000.
3. That is a lot of opportunity for us to say the wrong thing.
D. Communication is the process of expressing how we feel and what we think.
1. On the one hand, the words we use can confuse, embarrass and hurt.
a. On the other hand, the words we use have the power to heal and help, encourage and teach.
2. On one occasion, a well-known sportswriter was analyzing a “fine” that had been levied on a famous baseball manager for verbally chewing out the baseball commissioner.
a. The sportswriter defended the manager saying, “After all, they were just words!”
3. Just words? There is no such thing, as just words…words are powerful.
a. Saying they were “just words” is like saying “it was just and atom bomb!”
4. The old saying we used to tell kids was: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
a. But the truth is: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart.”
E. Our words have such power and carry so much weight, and that’s why the Bible gives us so much guidance and so many warnings about communication.
1. Consider for a moment how many times the Bible uses the words: Tongue, talk, speech, speak, lips, mouth, and words.
a. The word “tongue” appears almost 150 times in the Bible. The words “talk, talking, and talker” appear 125 times.
b. The word “speech” is used 40 times, and the words “speak and speaking” 480 times.
c. The word “lips” is used 125 times, and “mouth” is used 322 times.
d. And finally, the word “words” is used over 1000 times in the Bible.
e. When you add them up, we see that the Bible mentions communication over 2500 times.
2. So with the subject of our communication being addressed so often in the Bible, we can expect some powerful and helpful commands and warnings. Here are a few of my favorites:
a. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Pr. 18:21)
b. He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (Pr. 21:23)