Kind Words Bring Cheer

Published 9:02 am Friday, August 12, 2022

I received a copy of a newspaper clip recently from one of my sisters. It was an excerpt from the local newspaper in the town that I grew up in and was in the section listing events that took place fifty years ago. It told about a group of local young people who were members of the Elbert County Schoolboy Patrol Corps; I was included in the bunch. We had attended a training camp on Lake Blackshear in Cordele. Even though that was half a century ago, I remember the trip well–including one kid that made fun of me all week. He called me Nifty Fifty and stated that my clothes were old fashioned. In spite of his cruel words, I carried on and enjoyed myself. After all, it was a big deal to me to get to go away from home and spend time with some of my schoolmates, so there was no need to allow a bully to spoil it all.

With school just getting started for another year, it is a good time to remember that children will endure a lot of things during this part of their lives–most of it will be good but there will be some negative things as well. Among the things that our children will hopefully learn early in their lives is the importance of thinking twice before speaking to and about others and the painful impact that careless statements can make. That does not just apply to the children, for throughout our lives we can be prone to hurt others with thoughtless words. Avoiding this action is not a “once and you’re done” lesson but a lifetime of considering the effect of our words before we speak them.

I recall hearing the popular phrase in school that states that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It makes a bold claim but it is empty of truth for words maliciously spoken can hurt a great deal. I came upon a quote recently that rightly states that “The tongue is the only tool that grows sharper with constant use.” I have used a variety of tools in my lifetime that were designed to cut through wood, metal, or other material and I always found that the more I used them the more dull and less effective they became. When I was younger I cut a lot of firewood every winter; when my chain saw was properly sharpened it cut through big trees effectively but as I used it the sharp edge would begin to wear down until cutting was slow and difficult. The only solution was to stop cutting and sharpen the chain. The opposite can be true of the deep cutting words that we use against others. If we are not mindful, those hurtful words can become sharper, cut deeper into the person’s heart, and cause damage that leaves a lasting tender spot. If we are not careful regarding our speech we can lose sensitivity of how our words can affect another, thus allowing it to become easier to spew out damaging and degrading remarks with no concern for the resulting consequences. James 3:5 states that “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (New International Version). That which was true as James penned those words centuries ago is certainly still true today!

In the event that you carry the wounds resulting from the thoughtless words of another–whether recently or decades ago–be comforted with the realization that God is the healer of all our ailments, including our emotional scars. And if you are guilty of inflicting pain on someone through what you said to them or about them, remember that God forgives when you sincerely ask Him to and He will give you the boldness to ask for forgiveness from the one that you hurt.

Instead of sharpening our tongues through constantly using them for evil, let us instead speak words of hope and encouragement to others. Keep this in mind: “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 12:25).