“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a chant that we heard or even may have used as children. It simply means that name-calling will not cause physical injury as might be the case by being hit with a stick or a rock. While there may be a grain of truth in this little idiom, words, indeed can be very hurtful and harmful. Certainly, our words are important because they are our primary means of communicating with others. They express who we are as well as our love and appreciation for others.
The Bible tells us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) God’s word instructs us in the way we are to go, and we use words to honor and glorify Him. (Psalm 32:8)
The Bible has much to say about our use of words, both their value when properly used and their danger when misused. Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11) A person’s speech reveals the character and the true condition of the heart. James tells us that the tongue (speech) can set our life on fire, but the one who is able to control it can control all other aspects of his life. Is not our heart spiritually unhealthy when out of the same mouth we bless God and curse men? James says, “These things ought not to be…” (James 3:9-10)
The constructive and careful use of our words is a great responsibility but also a great blessing in the course of our daily lives. Our words honor and glorify God through public and private prayer. They witness His love and lead others to faith in Christ. With our words, we express love to others in special ways, and forgive those who have offended us. Through our words, we communicate and build relationships, console and encourage the brokenhearted and impart wisdom to the naive. Our goal should be “…whatever (we) do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)