Mar 27, 2007

Sticks and Stones

By Betsy Love

Joseph, a senior at the school where I teach, came into my classroom one day and asked, "Do words have power?" I then recited a scripture, one of my favorite, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." John 1:1. "Exactly," he said. "Can I quote you?" He had been having problems with people using idle words about others. He tried to explain to them that words can offend and hurt. “They’re only words,” came the others' reply.

We've all heard the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Words are powerful—“Mightier than the sword." We know how much damage a sword can do. If so, then how much more we might damage another with our words. The opposite holds true as well. Our words also have the power to bring joy, enlightenment, encouragement and a host of other positives in another’s life. As a writer I often ask myself if the words I write will bring those affirmative blessings in someone’s life. When I think about how carefully I choose my words on paper, I sometimes wonder if I am as careful to choose my spoken words.

Someone once said, “Let your words be sweet, for tomorrow you may have to eat them.” Today is a reminder to myself to always remember the power of words. Have I offended someone? Have I spoken ill of someone? That's something I need to work on.


  1. Thanks for the reminder, Betsy! During a recent scipture study time,I came across a scripture that helped me understand the power of words. Matthew 12:36-37 says: "but I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be condemned."

    I don't think it can be put much plainer than that!

  2. Powerful reminder, Kari. I'm sure we will be held accountable for all our words, but I've found it impossible to remember what I've said. I try to be kind, but words I mean in kindness can often be received as threats or jibes. Hopefully, we will be held more accountable for the prompting thoughts than merely our words.

    Also, I'm continually surpried when people I have not seen for years tell of somethng they remember I said. So far, they've been good words i've long forgotten, but at least wish I had said. Maybe, I tell myself, they're quoting somebody else though i've been given the credit. Rather than diagree, I say I've forgotten but thank them for recalling. Maybe being remembered falsely for perhaps somebody else's good words is better than not being remembered at all.

    Another quote about words: "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

  3. Well said, all. And you know what else I've found? The tone you say words in matters, too. I remember, after a verbal sparring match with my 17-year-old, when I was far too severe with him, I tried to apologize, but my voice was still hard and commandant-ish, and all he heard was the tone. He didn't hear 'I'm sorry' at all.


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