When I was a child, we recited a chant: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Is that still around? I hope not, because we all know it is ludicrously untrue, isn’t it?! Of course words hurt. And sometimes they hurt more than a broken bone.
A relative of mine recalls an aunt who told her she was the ugliest child ever born. This beautiful woman, now a grandmother, still remembers those stinging words from her childhood and still finds it hard to believe she is attractive. (The truth is all children are beautiful; they are all created in the image of God, but that's a topic for another day.)
We need to be cautious with our words, cautious about voicing criticism. A speaker once described our words as arrows shot at a fence. We can try to take them back, but they still leave holes behind. Undoing the damage of careless words is difficult. I know; I’ve tried. And I have many regrets in this area. Let’s resolve during this new year to watch our words.
“He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” Proverbs 22:11