“The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
– Proverbs 12:18
I’ve always viewed language and any form of human communication as a double-edged sword. With the right words, you can do anything.
Words are used to rally people for war.
Words are used to make nations believe.
Words are used to rouse people, calm people, backstab some, defend others, make them happy, sad, thoughtful, bring enlightenment, drop despair or kindle hope, and the most proficient word-users can do all this without anyone noticing what’s being done. We can call it brain-washing, manipulating, spouting propaganda – but only if we haven’t been convinced by what’s being said.
In fact, even the average Joe can do all these things, but the only difference is that he’s not doing it on purpose. It’s how people get hurt by those they’re closest to, how everyone has little quirks and quotes, and makes up a big part of everyone’s unique personality. It is why we can change the more we realise how powerful words can be.
As the Bible says, if we’re reckless with our words, we can inflict great pain. How many careless words have we thrown around during our lifetime? I know I can’t even begin to count them. Sometimes (by some form of amazing grace), they’re shrugged off or go unheard. Other times, they do much more damage than we can ever imagine. It sometimes scares me speechless, literally speechless, because I’m afraid of what I might end up doing.
Thankfully, there is a “but”: “But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” So if we’re wise and prudent with our words, we can actually help others to the extent that the same wounds we’ve inflicted can be healed with the same ‘sword’. And what does it mean to be wise? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”, found in Proverbs 1:7. Most of chapter 1 then goes on to personify Wisdom, where Wisdom says she is gained when one loves knowledge and repents at her rebuke. The rebuke mentioned here can be from the Holy Spirit, our own conscience, and those who are wiser than we are.
It’s a constant learning process and a skill that no one has, or ever will, manage to perfect. James 3:7-9 says we can tame wild animals, but none can tame the tongue. But despite this, God has created us with tongues for a reason – first and foremost, to praise Him, but also to bless and not curse those around us, because everyone is made in His image (v. 9).
I encourage everyone – including myself! – to keep a constant watch on what we say and/or do to others. After all, if you have a sword in your hand, would you start swinging it around recklessly? Or would you use it to protect others and fight the lies in this world? We’ve been given something powerful, and great power always comes with a quote from the Spiderman franchise.