“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”
Have you ever heard something so ridiculous? Anyone who has ever been crushed under the weight of a snarky comment or snide remark knows the utter falsehood in that statement.
Sticks and stones may very well break your bones—but words? Words can crush your heart.
They hold enormous power.
Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (ESV). James 3:5 reminds us, “The tongue is also a small part of the body, but it can speak big things” (NLV). So what are you speaking over those around you? Are you speaking words of life? Are you proclaiming the largeness of God’s promises, or the smallness of your fears?
Allow me to illustrate with a story. One of my sons struggled through school. His teachers labeled him with a disability. His brothers would pick on him—John and I would tell them he just thinks differently. His brothers would respond with, “but he doesn’t think!” We realized we weren’t nurturing his identity in Christ because we were too busy accepting the labels the world placed on him. We made a conscious choice to start speaking Scripture over him:
You have the mind of the Christ.
You are the head, not the tail.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
As our son started to believe and declare the Lord’s promises over his life, he started to improve in school. He moved into AP classes and landed a place on the honor roll. His progress followed him into his career when he became one of the youngest managers for Apple, whose slogan at the time was fitting: “Think Differently.” We chose to speak life rather than death and the results were evident.
Our words have the potential to create atmospheres where people can thrive. Let’s not use our words to position people for normal, because normal has not served the church well. Rather, let’s position each other for signs, wonders and miracles by speaking God-given identity and destiny into the lives of others.
Let’s remind those entrusted to us that they are sons and daughters of the Most High God. Let’s close our mouths to words that diminish and tear down and open them to release words of life! Our words can either cause others to shrink back and live small lives, or frame a world large enough for them to be heroes in. Which will you choose?