As a child growing up, do you remember hurling this familiar sing-song phrase at a sibling or friend? "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!" I certainly do! Words thrown out there, trying to impress someone, trying to look or sound cool...
James 3:8 says "No one can tame the tongue - a restless evil, full of deadly poison."
This week, [April 11-17 +verbal abuse] is the topic. Our words can cut deeper than any knife and leave scars on others forever. It can take the form of a one-time off-the-cuff comment, gossiping about others, or ongoing verbal abuse from a friend, love interest or even a parent. So what are we to do? Just stick our tongue in an electrical socket and be mute the rest of our lives? As tempting as that may be, Jesus offers other solutions!
- Speak only encouraging words. The old saying "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" still holds true. Proverbs 10:19 says, "The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words." (The Message)
- Steer clear of conversations that promote gossip and negative rumors. Talking about every piece of gossip only keeps the fires going. Refusing to discuss them cuts the fuel line and makes the fires die out. Does someone continually irritate you? Decide not to complain about the person, and see if your irritation dies from lack of fuel. Read Proverbs 26:20.
- Matthew 18:15-19 offers ideas for dealing with abuse. Confront, in private, the person who has abused you. Try to explain that the way the abuser speaks is hurtful and that a change is necessary. If they do not listen, ask another friend, teacher or adult to come with you to confront the abuser.
Ask your teen...
Evaluate your relationships. Are any of your friends easily angered or self-seeking?
Do they show love to you with how they talk to you?
Are you ever afraid to speak to them alone or to confront them?
Encourage your teen...
- To continue to pray: As you go through your day, listen to the words you speak. Pray that your words are encouraging to others and that they reflect the love of God.
- To read Scripture: Commit Psalm 19:14 to memory. Look in your Bible Concordance for other Scriptures on taming the tongue.
- To get help: If you have a difficult relationship, know that you are not alone. Accept the help of supportive, caring people in your life. If you are the subject of verbal abuse, please tell someone.
- To encourage one another: I Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage and build each other up. If you have friends who are being abused by peers or adults and are unable to stand up for themselves, offer to assist them in finding help. Be available to show God's love and compassion.