As we look to God’s Word for direction in our lives, today we will discover an area in which we all sometimes fail. Even ‘the man after God’s own heart’ had to pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
The tongue is a very powerful thing. It can cause great harm if it is not controlled. So, for a few minutes, let’s consider the matter of ‘Words and Wounds.’
First, in considering this matter, think about the depth that can vary. Just as physical wounds can vary in their depth, so too can thoughtless words vary in their damage. Superficial wounds cause only slight pain and are soon forgotten. Often a curt answer, a cutting remark, a callous observation, or a careless word may do the same. However, serious wounds have a much greater impact. Such wounds cause great pain and often have lingering effects. The soreness and sensitivity resulting from such a wound may require much time for mitigation. So too with our words; words of attack, words of anger, or words of assumption may cause deeper wounds with more serious consequences, as well as longer-lasting effects.
But also, think about the dirt that can gather. When wounds occur, there is an opening created for the entrance of things which would contaminate the health of the wounded party. Physically, as a result of a wound, there is the opportunity for the introduction of germs into the body. As you interact with others or go about your normal activities, that wound has created an opening that may permit the entrance of things that would be harmful. Likewise, spiritually, because of the wound caused by a word, the door is open for the introduction into the life of the wounded of those things which may be hazardous to the spiritual health. Resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, doubt, and many more harmful things may pollute the health of a wounded individual.
Then, consider the death which may ensue. The introduction of uncleanness by way of a wound can be very hazardous. It begins with distress. We have all used the phrase, “It sticks out like a sore thumb.” So too, a wound caused by our words. It creates pain, an over-sensitivity is created, people react in a more rapid manner. Then comes disablement. A wound not properly cleansed and treated can result in disablement. And there are many Christians who are spiritually crippled, who cannot bear heavy loads because of an untreated wound received at the tongue of another. Finally, the ultimate tragedy of a wound is that it may lead to death. An untreated wound may result in the loss of life. Spiritually, it could be the death of a person’s zeal for Christ their faith in God, or their presence at the house of God.
Knowing these things, here is the determination we must make as believers. First, there must be a determination about our words. Like the psalmist we must pray, “Set a watch, O Lord before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” James reminds us, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Also, there must be a determination about our wounds. We must not allow dirt to gather which would result in our spiritual endangerment. Come to Jesus and find the cleansing for those sins which would seek to find lodging in that wound.
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Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.