Shame on us if we ever underestimate the power of words, whether spoken, inscribed, texted, or typed. But we often forget how significant words are until they effect us. It’s easy to speak an idle word or give a command with far-reaching implications, but when an idle word or command (or any other category of words) impacts me, that’s when I begin to understand it.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 says, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.”
How often do I take to heart something potentially hurtful that is said about me? Many times it may be a joke that can be taken lightly, or many times it may be a word that is misspoken and untrue. In a sinful world, miscommunication is huge and can be hurtful if taken to heart all the time. Lies and exaggerations also hurt, but we must remember that God is truth and knows who we really are, even when others may be led to think ill of us.
At the same time, how often do we say hurtful things about others? We know just as much as the next person that not everything said about someone is true because we have often said untrue things about others. On the other hand, we should not be hypocritical, being hurt by the words of others while causing pain to someone else in a like manner.
Matthew 7:3-5 says, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank [is] in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
First of all, I need to make sure I am not saying harmful things about other people or encouraging the same. Secondly, I must be careful to examine everything that’s said about me, sorting the good from the bad and correctly responding to the bad so that God is glorified in my life.
Do not take to heart all that people say,
For often we are hurt by things that we have heard.
But you yourself speak kindly in every single way,
And carefully consider every single word.