August 15, 2012
It seems like I hear or say that phrase a lot. It comes out in all kinds of circumstances. You find yourself in a group of people, just hanging out. Then the banter starts to happen. One person starts to pick on someone else and when they feel they have taken it to far, all is made well by a well placed, “just kidding!”
But does it work? Does the “just kidding” really removed the stake we may have just plunged into somebody’s heart?
You see, the truth is, words hurt. We have more power in our words than we give ourselves credit.
We convince ourselves that our words mean nothing. “They are only words!” or “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” are phrases that we learn to help ease our minds so when hurtful words spill out of our mouths, we can just right them off by proclaiming “JUST KIDDING” (or in my case a wink…which by the way my wife hates).
I was reading an article that you can find here, about how image matters to teens, especially for girls. This got me thinking about how often we tear each other down in the name of fun.
But think about how often someone has “jokingly” made fun of you. Do you immediately stop thinking about that comment?
“Wow is this shirt really that bad? I’m never going to wear it again!”
“What is wrong with the way I laugh? Maybe I should try to change it”
“Am I really that dumb? What else am I ignorant about?”
We can pretend all we want that our words don’t hurt the people around us, but we are only fooling ourselves and we will continue to hurt those that are closest to us. How about we instead watch what we say?
James 3 tells us that our tongues are need to be tamed. They can cause so much damage. But James also says that it is not easy. “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8
So it takes A LOT of work. It will take a lot of moderation. Pay attention to what you say. Start listening to yourself. It may take a while but I bet you will start hearing things that you would dread if they were directed at you.
Maybe enlist some friends to help you as well. Ask them to inform you of things you say that are hurtful. My wife helps me out so much with this! She lets me know and it may take a while but I start to notice that what she points out is true (no matter how much it hurts my pride).
Don’t forget to ask for forgiveness. If you have said something that you think may have hurt someone, go to them and apologize. It takes a lot of courage but it must be done for the healing of both you and them.
I know that it seems ridiculous to watch what we say. I’m not saying you can’t joke around with friends. Just watch the amount of joking and make sure you are not hurting one another. As Christians we are called to encourage each other and build each other up, not tear one another down.
Have you ever been in a situation where you realized your words were not jokes to those around you? What have you done (or can you do) to fix that?