‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is an old saying that has come unstuck. It is just not true and if you have ever been the target of harsh words, you know it. They really do hurt and they hurt badly. I am sure we have all felt at times that we were bleeding to death silently and internally because of harsh words.
Well, the latest discovery is that when we experience feelings of rejection, there is a specific response in the brain. The brain measures hurtful emotional impact the same way as it measures physical pain.
Emotional rejection is recorded as a physical blow.
No wonder Jesus warned us that ‘every thoughtless word you speak you will have to give an account for on the day of judgement.’ He said we are either condemned or acquitted by our own words, Matthew 12:36,37.
He understands that our words profoundly effect everyone around us.
The new insight into our reaction to hard words is a revelation and I plead for mercy for every unkind word I have ever spoken. Rather than ‘think before we speak’ we should love before we speak and, like Jesus, we should always speak in love.
We know from experience that what the wise man said about kind words is equally true. He said ‘kind words are like dripping honey, sweetness to the palate and health for the body’, Proverbs 16:24. Words can actually give health.
Even when Jesus spoke words that some of His hearers rejected, he could still say ‘the words that I have spoken are both spirit and life’. (John 6:63.)
But the last word on words is simply this: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. John 1:14