Proverbs 12:18 “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
Many have been on the receiving end of a ‘tongue-lashing.’ It may have been needed correction, a fit of anger, an outburst of frustration, or a sinful desire to hurt another by tearing them down.
Some of those ‘lashings’ were deserved. Others were suffered at the hands of one that is hurting or an abuser. But for all, we heard words that cut to our soul. They spoke hurtful words, condemning comments. Words that cut to our core and made us feel worthless.
Most often, we are surprised by the outburst. But upon further examination, we can reason it out more thoroughly.
Hurt people hurt people.
We can all say we have heard it, but when we are on the receiving end of someone’s hurt, it may be in the form of a knife’s edge that cuts deeply.
Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
The words that hurt the most come from those closest to us. We have a history that shares the good, bad and the ugly. Once a hurt or offense is sustained, we reach into past history and hurl it back in the face of those who hurt us, and the cycle of pain continues.
The Bible has much to say about the tongue. But probably one of the most cogent verses is found in James.
James 3:5-8 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
That is quite an indictment!
I have found that which my mind is most full, that is what comes out.
Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
What we hear from those around us is often the overflow of the heart. Whether good, bad, or ugly, it all originated in the heart of the one speaking.
The sharp points of the words we hurl at those around us leave a swath of hurt and dying people around us. Cleaning up such a mess is not an easy task.
Sometimes we catch ourselves before we speak and avoid the damage and avert the crisis. But those times when we talk first and think later put us in a situation where we wish we could recall the words as soon as they leave our mouths.
It is then we prove the Bible right. Our tongue becomes a fire, a world of iniquity. It defiles us and is set on fire of hell.
It cannot be tamed.
It is unruly and full of deadly poison.
Some weaponize their words as a defense mechanism. They have first been hurt profoundly and want nothing to do with opening themselves up to that ever again.
Others mask their insecurity and immaturity with words that keep others at a distance.
Some will find twisted pleasure in being able to seemingly “control” others with their words. Others will watch the response they get with shocking statements to see if they can ‘get a ‘rise’ out of someone. Then, they exploit what they find, gaining pleasure from those they seemingly control.
Often, we will form defense mechanisms to guard our hearts against being hurt in such a manner again. Some will retreat within themselves, never risking the vulnerability it takes to love and live in this life.
Others mask their heart with self-deprecating humor. We make fun of ourselves before others do and laugh with them while inside, we are dying.
Others put on the mask of indifference. Showing that we are affected by their words only gives them the upper hand, and when we can control our emotions and our responses, we can maintain the situation.
Then, we have the gossip. Seeking juicy tidbits of information about others to elevate themselves by tearing down others. No more significant hurt and damage have been done to the cause of Christ than what comes out of the gossip’s mouth.
Pastors have been defamed, marriages destroyed, testimonies ruined, and churches rendered ineffective by the mouth of the gossip. It is often done by somewhat “well-meaning” folk. But in the end, they become tools of Satan to destroy the cause of Christ.
If you have felt the sharp sting of words spoken in anger, frustration, or even calculated attacks designed to do you great harm, you must never respond in kind. The response of the child of God must be that of love.
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
The object of love is not in the tongue’s power but in loving life (not death) that gives the power.
1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
When we respond to sharp words with love, most will not know what to do with that type of response. Some will continue and even escalate their attack. We must elevate our love in response.
I must remember that the words were spoken with intent to hurt, damage or control come from a hurting heart. Only love will break its hold on them. Those that are overcome by evil can be swayed and helped.
Romans 12:21 “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”