Your words are powerful! Are you using them to build up or tear down?
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In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). Sounds like a simple command right? But can we hold up in a conversation when someone is talking negatively about someone else? Do we dismiss ourselves and/or thoughts, or do we chime in and add fuel to the fire? I’ve been on both ends and I can tell you neither felt good. I remember creating such a huge wildfire based on the words I spoke from my mouth. The final result was complete ruins. It led me to repentance and I felt so bad seeing the damaged I’d caused. I have also been on the opposite end and that’s what we are going to focus more on today. You will see how words can really hurt someone!
In elementary school, I can recall being bullied, and I tell you it was no fun. It killed my spirit and I often walked with my head hung low. I believed the words that were spoken because I didn’t know that I was loved nor did I have the understanding of true beauty. So I perceived myself as fat and ugly. And those bullies didn’t know me. They were just expressing their opinions, which probably was a result of their own insecurities.
In addition to other school kids’ bullying, I had to deal with one in the same class as me. Oh brother! He was the oldest in the class due to failing a few times. I promise I disliked seeing him coming. He would always call me fat and just say other harsh things about me and my family. I know hate is a strong word to use, but I hated him. It was one thing to be abused verbally, but being abused physically too was something I’d grown sick of. After telling the teachers time after time, his taunts continued. One day I fought back verbally AND physically. I gave him a piece of my mind AND my fist because I was just sick and tired. I don’t know what hurt me the most——my fist hitting his rock solid body or the words that spewed from my mouth. All I know is I ended up in tears. I spoke something so harsh about his father and he stopped unexpectedly. I’m not sure if his father wasn’t present in his life, if he’d passed or what. Whatever the case, speaking about his father was a sensitive matter and that could’ve been a reason why he bullied me. He didn’t know how to express his anger and hurt in a positive way so he vented by verbally and physically abusing others. Something changed that day, in both of our lives. I started speaking to him and I became more compassionate towards him. I was able to see that even though he was a bully, words hurt him too.
During my eighth-grade year and after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I was on several medicines, my health was still a little rocky, and my weight fluctuated a lot. I would gain a few pounds, and then I would lose them, sometimes in less than a week. The abdominal pains were unbearable, and I feared going places because I never knew when I would have to run to the bathroom. Several times, I didn’t make it to the bathroom on time and I felt so disgusted with myself! I lived in fear because I was bound by this horrible disease. Despite not wanting to leave home, I had to go back and forth to a specialist that was over eighty miles away. From the colonoscopies and upper-gastrointestinal endoscopies to the barium enemas, I couldn’t take any more.
Note: Within TWO months I lost 50 pounds. It was during the summer break. I went from 170 to 120, and as you can imagine, people noticed and voiced their opinions. I went to school my 8th grade year looking like an entirely different person.
Because of what was going on in my life, some people kept me in the center of their conversation, even up to my freshman year of high school. Can a sister get a break? Sheesh! One day in between class periods, my big sister met me outside as I headed to lunch. Clearly upset, she handed me a piece of paper. It was a written conversation of a few girls about me. The word AIDS stood out more than any other word on the paper. I felt sick to my stomach, and my heart raced with anger and hurt. I wanted answers. I wanted to know how they had come up with that idea. I managed to hold back the tears, but, deep down inside, I felt like crawling in a hole and never coming out. They had no clue of what I was battling. It wasn’t even close to AIDS; it was ulcerative colitis, something completely different. After that happened, I started noticing how people would whisper whenever they saw me. People didn’t know what I was going through. I think it would’ve been fair for them to come to me and ask me what was wrong instead of spreading such a horrible lie.
It is so important that we discipline ourselves to, as my mom used to say, keep our mouths off of people and their situation. In any given situation we should be lifting others up by our words and not talking about them in a negative way. We should speak words of encouragement that will lift their spirits. Even if we know the truth of their situation, we should be considerate to take those matters to God in prayer and not other people.
If you find yourself on the opposite end of the stick, receiving the brunt of someone’s hurt, you should try to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. It wouldn’t be a good idea to lash back because that only adds more to the fire. Try to minister words that encourages, builds, and strengthens them. One last thing, remember that “pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24, NKJV).
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and you will give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV).
God created you to be confident, courageous, full of love and joy. Do not allow someone’s words to place you in captivity or have you thinking twice about what God says about you or who He’s created you to be. And don’t speak words that will inflict those things on other people. The Word of God is your foundation! You are being built on the Word of Truth, just as ever other person who believes in Jesus. Stand firm with the assurance of that! So choose today to be quick to forgive those who have spoken about or to you in a negative way. Receive God’s peace and move forward extending the same grace to others!
Words do hurt and that’s why it’s important to make sure we’re speaking LIFE in any given situation! Speak LIFE!