“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Words will never hurt me.
Is this true?
What do you think about this statement?
I remember learning this little rhyme all the way back in preschool. Perhaps you did too. My guess is that like me, you have found this little rhyme to be anything but true. My hunch is that also like me, you have been hurt by others’ words on multiple occasions throughout your life. In fact, I’m quite sure that even as you read this you can remember a time in your life in which somebody said something negative, something hurtful to you, and it stuck to your heart and mind like glue. Perhaps you still regularly think about those painful words to this very day, years or even decades later. Mean and hurtful things that have shaped who you are. Or at least who you think you are.
Perhaps the deepest wounds are from those things unsaid by people we loved and looked up to. The words they didn’t encourage us with. The words they didn’t counsel us with. The words they didn’t speak to spur us on with.
At the same time, as much as we all have been affected negatively by discouraging, demeaning words from others, we also have been helped by encouraging words from those who sought to build us up, those who saw good things in us that no one had ever brought to light before. These are the kinds of words that bring life. They bring hope. They help us to see who we really are in Christ. To see that God loves us, is with us and is working in our lives for His glory and our joy in Him. This is the power of encouragement.
The reality is this: We all know that little “sticks and stones” rhyme simply isn’t true. It is a lie. Words will hurt you. And our words will hurt others. But our words also have the power to heal others too. In fact, our words have the power to bring deep comfort and joy to those around us. More than that, as Christians, we were redeemed by Jesus to be people who bring life, hope and healing to people through our words. Not the opposite.
I can tell you this, every person we meet and interact with today needs a word of encouragement. Every single one. And guess what? God made us to be the relentless deliverers of these words of life. Speaking words of encouragement ought not be viewed as a duty for us, but rather an absolute delight!
God gave us words for a reason. Namely, that we might speak life-giving, joy-producing, God-glorifying words that build people up and point others to Him.
Let’s go build some people up!
This post originally appeared at Mark’s blog.
Published December 7, 2022