J.C. Derrick: The power of words

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, April 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Radio’s J.C. Derrick is here now with some thoughts on the power of words.

J.C. DERRICK, MANAGING EDITOR: I don’t remember much about being 6 years old, but when I was around that age I can recall one specific verbal exchange at church.

It was a summer Sunday, following the evening worship service—which all good Southern Baptist churches held in those days.

My parents and I went to visit the classroom I would attend that week for vacation Bible school. The teacher was hanging something on the wall when we came in, and she turned and said, oh, you’re the one I can spank!

She was joking of course—alluding to my parents letting her know that she had their proxy to discipline me as needed. I don’t recall any disciplinary issues that week—but I also don’t remember anything she taught. Only the comment.

And that’s sad.

This commentary isn’t actually about corporal punishment. Based on Proverbs 13:24, I believe it’s biblical.

But this vignette, to me, speaks to the power of words.

“Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” the children’s rhyme goes. Yet that saying couldn’t be more wrong.

We’ve all been stung by hurtful words. They linger in our minds even decades after the person who delivered them has forgotten.

The Bible says words have the power to give life, or to give death, to build up, or to tear down.

Ephesians 4:29 says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It’s not hard to look around and see all sorts of people—including leaders who should know better­—spewing hateful words. But before we go after the speck in someone else’s eye, we should look at the log in our own.

How often have we been the ones to cause someone lasting pain with our words?

We would do well to humbly pray with the Psalmist: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.”

For WORLD Radio, I’m J.C. Derrick.

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