Recently, my husband was telling a well-meaning soul about Chardonnay’s seizures. The well-meaning soul said, “So what are you going to do? Put her to sleep?” I say well-meaning soul to prevent myself from splashing my offense all over the page. I responded politely. “No, we are giving her medication.” I was thinking, however, “Did we put you to sleep when you were diagnosed with a potentially life-ending illness?” Snarky? Maybe a little.
I was raised by family members who taught me manners, who insisted I was courteous to others, respected my elders, lived by the Golden Rule. Not so with many people today, young or old. I’m not going to pin the general lack of respect for others solely on the younger generation. They learned it somewhere, right? I see it all the time on social media – examples of the lack of respect we have for one another. People believe exercising their right to freedom of speech means they can say whatever trips across their brain cells without giving thought to how their words affect others. The old sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, attitude. But words do hurt, sometimes worse than physical blows.
James 1:26 says, “Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance counts for nothing.” I won’t hold everyone accountable for James’ words. He is obviously referring to those who wear their religion on their sleeves. Later on, in James 3:8, he speaks his mind on the matter, “but the tongue no one can tame – it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison!” And, there it is, the reason the sticks and stones rhyme has no merit. Words can hurt.
James didn’t believe the tongue could be tamed. Solomon did. Proverbs
16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and healing for the body.” Solomon said a lot about the tongue, the words of our mouths. He said the power of life and death is in the tongue. It’s true. We can build another up or we can fillet them with our words. It’s our choice. And, this is where training comes in. We are responsible for teaching our children that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We can teach them to think before speaking. It’s possible. We can teach them to put themselves in another’s shoes, ask them to think about how they would feel if hurtful words were said to them.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me isn’t true. Words can hurt. Use the power of the tongue to issue forth life-giving words…..