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When Hurtful Words have Harmed You

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:6-8

When I was in the fifth grade, I participated in a pickup football game. As a result, my leg was broken in three places and I ended up in the hospital.

You might wonder what that has to do with the subject of our focus verse, the tongue. Simply this. My bones healed and life went on. I still think about it from time to time, but it has never been a lingering painful memory like those caused by hurtful things said to me our about me.

Note how James depicts the power of the tongue. Fire. A restless evil. Full of deadly poison. And then he tells us what the tongue can do: “It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire…”

Think for a moment of deeply hurtful statements from others that have lingered and still pop into your mind from time to time. And when that happens, the old hurt continues to sting. You’ve forgiven them and tried to forget, but the wounds are deep.

The tongue can be a deadly poison. We’ve all heard stories of children who grew up in a home with hypercritical parents. “You’re stupid.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” You’ll always be a loser.” “You’re ugly.” Many children who come from such and unfortunate environment are maimed for life, poisoned by the cruelty of others.

I’m assuming that those who take time to read a daily devotional are not among those who make a habit of hurting others with their poisonous tongues. But you may be a victim.

If you have been the ongoing target of verbal abuse, I want you to know that God can help. There’s nothing like God’s word to lift you up and reveal the truth about you, that you have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful… Psalm 139:13-14

You are “wonderfully made.” Put another way, God’s “works are wonderful.” And if God says that about you, then it is absolutely, undeniably true.

Those who have wounded you speak from an evil heart. Their words originated with the Devil. James says of the fiery tongue that it is set on fire by hell. And the Devil is the father of lies.

When I was in the first grade my dad enrolled me in accordion lessons. It went so badly that I switched to the drums. That fared no better which led my music teacher to tell my father, “Some kids don’t have musical talent.”

Daddy wasn’t buying it. When the Fire Department started a Drum and Bugle Corps, I became a bugler. Ten years later I auditioned for the Navy Band as a trombonist and was accepted. My Father wouldn’t allow me to believe the hurtful words from my music teacher.

You have a heavenly Father who wants to set the record straight in your life. He is and will always be your biggest encourager. God will tell you the truth about yourself, and lead you to the things in life for which you were designed.

Believe the encouragers, those God placed in your life to lift you up. Trust those who have your best interest at heart. Don’t ever accept verbal abuse and unfair criticism as truth. See it for what it really is, evil lies from the pits of hell. Dismiss it. Reject it. Rebuke it. And since it’s from the Devil, run from it. You are a child of the King.

For more on this topic, check out this article: What is Unwholesome Talk and Why Should We Avoid It

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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