Words can burn it all down. Words can destroy your family, they can destroy your heart, they can destroy your marriage. Words can cause destruction in a church, in a family, in a workplace, in the culture. And I think we see that right now. It’s happening all around us.
Our words are powerful.
In the third chapter of James’s epistle, he says this: “Consider when a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire.” In verse 7, he says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (NIV)
James wasn’t saying that talking is bad or that words are bad. The fact is that our words are incredibly important for influencing our society. Our words are important for building and strengthening our families, for encouraging our spouse, our kids, our friends, so words are incredibly important. But he does give us the warning that words can do a lot of damage.
Sometimes one inappropriate word can wreck a career. It can wreck a reputation. When it’s in bad taste, when it’s unfair or unjust, it can burn down a life. It can burn down a whole platform.
So I want to encourage you today to just consider the weight of your words. Consider the destructive capability wrapped up in the words that you say. And remember that sometimes when you label someone, when you put a stamp on someone, you speak into their identity. And if you’re not careful, you can crush them, hurt them, or emotionally maim them for life.
You know the little things about “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” That’s hogwash. Names will hurt you a much longer time than sticks and stones will.
Your words can burn it all down. Keep that in mind and think about how you’re going to use your words to build instead of to burn.