Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.Romans 12:18 (NLT)
Loser. Ugly. Dumb. Too skinny. Too tall. Idiot. Moron. Ignorant. These are all words that have been used to describe me. (At least the ones spoken directly to me.) They came at various times of life, a lot in high school, however. I can tell you from personal experience that no matter the age, words still do hurt.
There’s an old limerick that goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’ve heard that stated by people my entire life, though mostly in grade school. What have we taught ourselves? Words don’t hurt? Of course they hurt! In fact, bone breaks eventually heal, but words cut deep into our hearts and leave wounds that can last a lifetime if the pain is not properly dealt with.
Now, here’s the really sad thing. All of these words were spoken to me at a Christian school or even at a Christian church. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The unfortunate reality is that Christians behave in ways that are very hurtful. In fact, it is one of the things that those outside of the faith notice the most about us – our words of condemnation and hatred.
How is it that the church Jesus planted based upon love has come to be known for the things/people we hate? You may think that hate is a strong word, here, but that’s exactly where these words come from. They come from a place of hatred, either for ourselves or the target.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to abusive language. This is why He was inspired to pen these words to one of his churches, and to us today. “Live in peace with everyone.”
We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to stop tearing down and do as Jesus did – build people up. When a negative word enters your mind, pray “Jesus, I realize that is not from you. I reject it. Please replace it with your words.” When we’ve said something offensive, ask for forgiveness. When we hear hurtful words spoken to, or about someone else, confront the offender. (In love, of course) Pray that God will speak through you, not in spite of you.
Let’s reclaim the language of Jesus and drop the language of the enemy. Let’s reaffirm, every day, our commitment to speak only words of love. After all, God is love.