You have probably heard the old saying: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” Unfortunately, the saying is not completely true. Words are powerful. Christ is “the Word,” and He “upholds all thing by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). God spoke the world into existence. “Keeping His word,” and “abiding in His word” are essential to our lives. “Man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Likewise, your words change things. Words can build or destroy; they can encourage or discourage; they can wound or heal; they can comfort or curse. There are so many powerful uses for our words. It turns out that words, while they cannot break our bones, they can break our hearts, break our spirits, and do us and others great harm. James instructs us: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”  —James 3:5-10

How many times have your unkind words inflicted wounds on the ones you claim to love and protect. Words can kill a relationship; gossip, slander, anger, rage, insult, curses, filthiness, lies and much more. Scripture warns us: “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” —Galatians 5:13-15

Jesus also told us that “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” —Matthew 15:18. We should often be ashamed of what comes out of our hearts. Don’t think your ugly words have been forgotten by those upon whom they were inflicted. Each one was like a nail driven into a beautiful tabletop. And if you have been using words this way for many years, the damage is considerable. It’s not only time to stop such foolishness, it is time to confess to God and to those you have hurt, seek their forgiveness for your ungodly words, and turn from such vile use of your mouth (do it today); it is time for you (by the work of the Holy Spirit), to bring forth blessings to those around you instead. By the grace of God, you can clean up your mess and start using your words to build.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:29-32