Spiritual Practice


Nicholas Hitt

We’ve all heard the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. The Bible tells a different story. James 3:8 says that the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Colossians 3:8 (NRSV) tells us to get rid of “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language.” Words can cut deeper than any knife and leave lifelong scars on those to whom we speak.

As a teenager, I never thought about the words I spoke to other people. My words were often hateful, cruel, mean, and abusive. I thought they made me look cool and would make me popular. I didn’t care whom I hurt, and I certainly didn’t care what God thought.

No one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:8 (NRSV)

Now, none of the people I was trying to impress are part of my life. I don’t talk to them; they don’t talk to me, and I probably wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them. However, the people I hurt most are the ones who truly loved me and are still in my life. My siblings, parents, and others close to me took the deepest cuts; and the scars still remain. Encouraging words often have to be repeated to stay with us. Hurtful words spoken once can last a lifetime.


PRAY: As you go through your day, listen to the words you speak. Pray that they are encouraging and that they reflect the love of God.

—from devozine (March/April 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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