Summary: This sermon reveals the true power of our words and our responsibility as Christians to choose them wisely.
“Sticks and Stones...”
There is a familiar old saying that we’ve all heard, it goes like this; “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Now, this is a response that probably everyone in this room today has uttered in the wake of some terrible barrage of name calling inflicted by someone else who was more than likely much bigger or stronger than we were. It was
a phrase that we interjected with much feeling where as after we said it, we abrubtly turned to walk away as if we had just won some sort of psychological victory over our opponent. But as you may remember, it was impossible to walk away though, before we signified our ‘supposed victory’ by the ritualistic sticking out of the tongue.
But later on, long after these words ‘that could never hurt us’ were said....we found ourselves hearing them over and over again in our head, and many times these ‘harmless’ words, true or untrue, would even bring us to tears and sometimes leave us, though not physically injured but emotionally scarred.
Sticks and stones may break my bones....but words can never hurt me?
How powerful can mere words be? Well, in Genesis chapter one we read that God used words to create the entire universe. The bible says that He literally spoke our world into existence. In fact, the only part of our creation that He didn’t merely “speak into existence” is man. And this is not because he couldn’t but because He wanted to create a special bond between Himself and us, so He actually formed us with his hands and made man in His own image. And though our words are in no way as powerful as God’s, the ability that He has given us
to communicate with each other by way of speech is perhaps the most powerful gift -- aside from Jesus-- that He has bestowed upon the human race. For it is through words, that we are able to communicate with one another--with words we are able to express our innermost feelings and by hearing and interpreting the words of others, we are able to understand to a certain degree their feelings.
Whether it be verbal, signed, or written, language is indeed a vital asset to all of mankind. But, as with any gift or ability so powerful, it is extremely important that our words are used in a very careful and responsible manner. Because you see, our words can be used for good.......or they can be used for evil. They can build up.....or they can tear down.
For instance, there are three words in the English language that have the power to warm the human heart and bring a feeling unequaled by perhaps any other combination of words in our vocabulary; those three special words are: I love you. Do you remember how you felt when you heard these three words for the very first time from the person that you loved.
Words are powerful. But, you can change only one of those three words in that sentence and a totally different feeling is invoked. The mere words; I hate you-- especially from someone you love can have quite the opposite affect, instead of warming our heart, these words can seem to pierce our chest and rip it out. Words are powerful.
Why are words so powerful? Well, Jesus gives us some insight into this question; In Matthew 12:34 He says; “It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.” If your heart is extremely glad or happy, even if we have no words at the time, it seems impossible to restrain at least a cheerful whistle. But, if your heart is full of anger; the mouth serves as a “pressure relief valve” or the whistle valve on a tea pot, it’s eager to get those feelings out in the open. And believe me friends; when it’s out there....it’s OUT THERE and no matter how much
we wish we could suck those words back in......once they fall from our lips, the damage is already done and we are forced to deal with it.
Solomon says in Proverbs 12:18; “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The Holy Spirit grants us many wonderful gifts, each according to our faith and abilities but some of us have been granted the gift of putting our foot in our mouth.....and this gift by the way is not from the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can rid ourselves of that “special gift” that we all at times seem to possess. Turn with me to the book of James 3:2-12
“2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.