Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me."

I think we've all heard this phrase a time or two. During my grade school years, this was a taunt on the playground. It was usually accompanied by the sticking out of a tongue or an ugly face made to be cruel.

Have you said something ... done something lately without thinking? Have your words been chosen with little regard for how they may hurt?

I wish I could say this happens only in our youth. But, it doesn't ... adults are guilty of this perhaps even more often than children. And, Believers are guilty of this same shortcoming. We are no exception to this fault, we sin and fall short. In thinking about reckless words, I've come to a realization that this is directly related to judgement. Our judgement of others. Don't misunderstand me, I believe we should hold one another accountable. However, I feel there is a big difference between holding someone accountable and judging someone.

Holding someone accountable is to go to them with love in your words and let them know you disagree with something. Whether it is something the person has done, said or a particular behavior ... you are to go to them in private.

Standing in judgement of someone is to "wave a flag" of disapproval. That flag draws attention of others to the person's behavior or actions. It demeans the person and hurts them.
Angry, critical or reckless words are like bullets. Once you pull the trigger, you can't take back that round. No matter how hard you try or how much you wish those words out of existence ... you can't. Long after you've forgotten the words you shot, the hurt goes on. The person you hurt plays those words over and over again. The sting of your bullet doesn't easily heal.

Putting down the gun filled with bullets of angry words takes the help of God and our own personal discipline.

Years ago, my Uncle Leonard gave me a "life lesson." I was young and making a point to let my uncle know exactly how "bad" another child had been. He stopped me mid sentence, took my hand and bent my fingers so I was pointing at him. He asked me "How many fingers are pointing at this other kid?" My answer was "one." Then, he asked "And, how many fingers are pointing back at you, kid?" I remember looking at my hand and the realization of his point hit me. There were three fingers pointing back at me.

In that moment, he taught me something. Don't misunderstand me, there are days when I fall short. I judge rather than hold someone accountable. I say hurtful words rather than words of love. But, I try to remember the lesson he taught me.

Sawyer Brown has a song about this very subject. If you haven't heard it ... find it and listen to it. I believe the title is "They Don't Understand". The song tells judgement from the heart of the judged.

How is your heart today? Do you have scars left from the shot of someone's angry words? Have you been the one shooting bullets of anger or criticism?

Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge or you too will be judged."

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