Jerry Newcombe

Virtually every week there’s a new headline of somebody getting in trouble because of something they have said. Perhaps a lifetime’s work has been undone by a thoughtless remark.

One of the saddest things I’ve ever heard was when a woman who was about 65 years old said that when she was a young teenager, about to go out on her first date, her dad said to her, “You’re so ugly. Who would ever want to marry you?”

That lady went on to go through four marriages and four divorces. Obviously, she made a lot of bad choices for which she is responsible. But even about a half-century later, her father’s thoughtless remarks still inflicted a deep wound.

We grew up hearing, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.”

Really? Often wounds from words can last a long time, maybe even a lifetime.

Christian pastor and author Chuck Swindoll says, "How much hurt, how much damage can be done by chance remarks! Our unguarded tongues can deposit germ-thoughts of hurt, humiliation, and hate into tender minds which fester, become full-blown infections, and ultimately spread disease throughout an adult personality.”

He adds, “With little regard for the other person's vulnerability, we have the power to initiate a violent emotional earthquake by merely making a few statements. They rip and tear like shrapnel in the person's head. Such destructive words are like sending 800 volts through 110 wire.”

Many today, even some in our churches, have been so beaten down by insulting things said that they accomplish only a fraction of what they could achieve. They are the Walking Wounded.

I would hasten to add to any victim of such remarks: Consider the source. Don’t take what others have said as gospel. Sometimes thoughtless remarks are just that---remarks delivered without thought or when someone is just tired. But words can have power, for good or ill.

The Bible (in Proverbs) says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. It also says in the book of James, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Thankfully, for those who want it, He is willing and able to give them spiritual heart surgery. That’s what conversion is.

Even in humor, we need to be careful in what we say---even if it’s just a “joke.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for flesh is sarx. Our word sarcasm comes from that word. The idea is that sarcasm is a metaphor of tearing out little pieces of flesh.

Jerry Newcombe

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer.