Sticks and stones

Matthew 7:1-5, Exodus 20:16.

All too often, the words we use harm others. When we engage in gossip or innuendo, it often comes at another’s expense. It is no simple task to undo the harm that results. The sad truth is that our words hurt others, and try as we might we cannot take them back. In this sense, the old saying about sticks and stones can’t be farther from the truth; words do in fact hurt others.

God said, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Yet we continue to offend, wrongly accuse, or simply pass along rumors. We point out the sins of others, judging them according to our own standard. So many build themselves up by tearing another down. All too often with mere words.

The commandment against false witness means that we are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbors, but defend them, speak well of them, and explain their actions in the kindest way. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory. We all have used words to harm others whether we realize it or not. We also have the opportunity to confess this sin and receive God’s forgiveness. Living as forgiven people, we are free to seek stronger relationships with our neighbor, and resist the temptations of harming others with our words.

Prayer: Holy God, give us the power to resist temptation, to forgive as we are forgiven and to love our neighbor as we are loved. Amen.

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