Most of my generation has heard the rhyme “Sticks and stones may (will) break my bones but names will never hurt me.” It’s a childhood rhyme that apparently dates back to the 1800’s and was designed to help children shred name calling and remain calm and non-retaliatory. I remember thinking of those words as I was often taunted because of my blonde and VERY curly hair in my younger years.
Words can indeed be damaging instruments. Most recently I have undergone the project of refusing to use certain words that have become rather commonplace in my vocabulary. They are not expletives, although those could use a bit of shredding, but they are words like “moron” or “idiot.” Recently, I actually went two whole days without uttering the word “moron.” Now for those of you that don’t work in retail, that kind of track record can be a milestone! Nevertheless, I’m working hard to eliminate those hurtful words – even though mostly mumbled to myself.
Jesus said that the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. In other words, what passes our lips on the way out is a direct reflection of the condition of our heart within. A shallow heart is reflected in shallow, casual, and often offensive words. Words that Jesus said we will be held responsible for; “…Every careless word that people speak they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).” Now in the context it may be that Jesus was not condemning guys like me who utter “moron” under the breath from time to time. But rather people who wrongly speak about God and without thinking ascribe the things of God to the things of the evil one. Yet, making application to our daily conversation is not inappropriate. After all, the Book of James talks extensively about the tongue and how, unbridled, it can lead to heavy destruction.
Words can indeed be hurtful things. They can cause more damage than sticks and stones. In today’s world of technology words about someone can literally travel the globe and ruin a person’s reputation or livelihood in an instant and that’s a bad thing. Those who speak/write/text such words are small people. When I use words like “moron” or “stupid” I merely reflect my own smallness as a person and expose my limited vocabulary when frustrated. Frankly I’m a better person than that. Consequently I hereby seek to erase those words from my verbal concordance and will diligently refrain from collecting either sticks or stones to replace them! 🙂