Jump Start # 2168
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Life and death. Our passages today states it the opposite, Death and life. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. With our words we can lift spirits up and encourage. With our words we can crush hearts and wound people for a long, long time.
Our moms taught us, “Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you.” That was cute. That got us through the moment. But as we grew, we learned that broken bones heal, but wounded hearts often never do. Words do harm. Words, as this passage states, can cause death.
How does one get over something said that was mean, hurtful and crushing. It’s easy to say, “just don’t think about it,” but it’s there. We forget compliments but we can remember criticism for decades. And, in these days, those hurtful words come as texts, emails, Facebook and Twitter posts. Some will write things that they would never say to your face. Some will say mean things in a public forum, such as social media, just to attract a crowd of sympathizers and supporters. It reminds me of a young boy playing football. His dad asked him if he made any tackles. The boy said, “No, but I jumped on the pile a few times.” Social media allows us to jump on the pile.
So, someone said something critical, mean and hurtful to you.
First, that discourages us. It just takes the wind out of our sail. That’s all it takes to ruin a good day. It can happen so quickly and just like that, we feel like putting a paper sack over our heads.
Second, those hurtful words are replayed in our minds over and over. It’s hard to let them go. At night, when it’s time to settle down, those thoughts come ragging through our minds. And, just like picking a scab, those emotional wounds remain fresh and bloody. So, when someone tells us, ‘just don’t think about it,’ it’s hard not to. We don’t want to. But those thoughts are there. It seems no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of them.
Third, hurtful words certainly change relationships. It’s hard to be warm and fuzzy with someone who has thrown darts your way. In a family, this creates tension. In a church, it strains our fellowship. At work, we begin to think about finding another job.
Fourth, a person doesn’t have to live very long before they receive hurtful words. It starts with our siblings. Then our neighborhood friends. Then school. Then work. And, after that, just about anywhere or anytime. Too many are willing to speak their minds without first engaging their minds. They don’t consider how their words may be received. They don’t think about consequences. We hide our offensiveness by saying, “I just call them the way I see them.” Maybe you do, and maybe the way you are seeing things isn’t right.
I expect one of the main reasons young preachers quit is because of all the lip they take by thoughtless brethren who say mean and cruel things. Rather than helping these young guys, they kill them. You look to any preacher that has been preaching for any length of time, and he can tell you stories that would melt the snow. Things that have been said to him. It either toughens your hide or it’ll make you leave Dodge. Too many preachers have quit because of heartless things that were said to them.
So, what do I do when I have been hurt? Someone said something and it stung. It still stings. What do I do?
First, consider whether or not what they said could be true. Some don’t know how to say things in the right way. It may have come out backward, crooked and upside down, but is there any truth to what they are saying? Think about that first. If so, make adjustments. Their perception and our perception may not be the same. Chew on it a while.
Second, consider the source. Is it a spiritual person that is trying to help you? Is it an idiot who is always complaining, always causing trouble and is always trying to make up his mind whether he is with the Lord or not? Is it anonymous? That’s truly a coward’s way.
Third, look deep within your heart and pray. Ask God for patience, forgiveness and open eyes to see what needs to be seen. Remember, as our blood begins to boil, Jesus has never let you down. Jesus has never hurt you. We serve Jesus. We follow Jesus. Don’t let anyone get between you and Jesus.
Fourth, do not launch a counter-attack. We love to do that. Someone says something picky about us, so we say something mean about them. Back and forth the jabs go. Uglier and uglier until one finally leaves the discussion. Some do not know how to have a productive conversation. They use insults, name calling and words that are intended to hurt. You must rise above that. Remember the example of the suffering Jesus that Peter tells us about. When reviled, He uttered no threats. Boy, He could have. He could have split the earth open and swallowed up a few of them. He didn’t. He didn’t and we shouldn’t. It takes two to have an argument. It takes two to have a fight. If someone is getting agitated and irritated, it may be time to step away and calm down. Writing in capital letters is the same as shouting.
Fifth, remember, we are to forgive. Read Ephesians 4:31-32. When we do not forgive, bitterness, anger, wrath will fill our hearts and consume us. It will be the end of us. But when we are kind, tender-hearted and forgiving, it not only brings peace, but it brings bandages to wounded feelings and is necessary for healing.
Finally, clear your head. Go for a walk. Hit some golf balls. Go for a drive. Air out your mind. Put on some music that will help you. Breathe. Remember, you are the first to suffer for something you didn’t do. Get focused. Get your mind back where it needs to be. Spend some time in the Gospels.
What they said was cruel. Probably was. What they said wasn’t even right. Probably true. What they said hurt. Now, you decide how long and how deep the wound will be. It’s up to you to decide if you will allow this to change your, destroy you, crush you or something that you will be able to move on. Controlling your spirit, your anger and your words, is a true sign of strength. You could pop a guy in the nose, but you won’t. You could fire a nasty email back, but you won’t. You could make his life miserable, but you won’t. You won’t because Jesus never did. There is something much larger here than what was said. Your character is showing. When you are fired up it shows what you are made of. It’s a test. You are bigger than these things, so show it and demonstrate it by the way you allow your self to be effected by these things.
Death and life are found in words. Make sure you’re in the life business and not the death.