One of the #1 factors that I’ve observed from many stories of hurting girls who have struggled with eating disorders and wanting to make their bodies look ‘just perfect’ is the power of the word to hurt. It is by far not true that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.
Words have power to heal and to hurt. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”. Yet, Proverbs 18:21 shares, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”.
The tongue is not something to be idly wagged around. It’s not kind to joke about someone being fat just because the world has set up unrealistic standards for ‘thin-ness’, and has skewed our perception of God’s love for variety and different shapes and sizes. It’s not funny either, nor considerate.
To my friends and sisters who have been hurt by others comments, look to Jesus not men for perfection. Jesus Christ is perfect. He is compassionate. He took our burden of sin upon Himself. He is the One Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Don’t let your life decisions be molded by foolish words, but by the Word of God. We live to please Him, and Him alone. Even if others try to put you down, all that matters is pleasing and loving our heavenly Father.
Romans 12:1, ‘Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.’
What kind of words hurt other people who are struggling?
‘Just man up, big guy. Or ‘be tough, big girl.’
‘You aren’t good enough. Try harder.’
‘Do you think you should eat that piece of cake?’
I could go on, but the thing is that Jesus’ love is not about food or calories. It’s not about them being tough enough. It’s not about exercise. It’s not about manning up. It’s about the power of Jesus Christ. It’s about His grace and love.
God made us to move, but He didn’t make us to focus on exercise.
God made us for Him. And He redeems us from our sin so we don’t need to worship lesser gods like our bodies or food and so we don’t have to obsess over those things.
Think about your words.
- Are they building others up in the Lord Jesus? Are they going to point others to the hope, the joy, the grace, the life of Christ?
1 Thessalonians 5:11, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing’.
- Are your words ones that are full of pride or full of humility and grace?
Colossians 4:6, ‘Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.’
- Are your words focusing on the person’s failures or on the work of Christ in their life, purifying and perfecting them?
Ephesians 4:29, ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear’.
- Do your words cause your brother or sister to stumble? Or do they give life?
Proverbs 16:24, ‘Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.’
God made man unique. We can speak. Words are a gift from God. But let’s think about what we say.
Do your words point people to the hills from whence their help comes? Are words filled with hope?
Psalm 121: 1-2, ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.’
And lest I weary you with these words, I’m going to close out with a final thought. Well, it’s not mine, but it’s from Proverbs 10:19, and it rings so true for me as a person who has often talked too much and hurt others with needless words.
Proverbs 10:19, ‘In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.’
Do you think the phrase, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is dumb?
Are you someone who likes to talk or listen?
What is the balance between talking and listening?
Would you say that words can hurt or heal?
Linking up with Julia for Mental Health Monday!!!