Writing & Communication

Why We Need to Watch Our Words

The first in a series of blog posts

on Interpersonal Communication and Relationships.


As children, we all learned the little ditty:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can never hurt me.”

Then we got older, and we realized just how ridiculous that mantra really is. We learn—too often the hard way—that words do harm. Words can hurt—just as much as sticks—sometimes more.

We discover that words have surprising power.

The power to tear down, and the power to build up.

The power to destroy—people, reputations, relationships—and the power to heal.

The power to bring death, and the power to breathe life.

Over and over, Scripture proclaims this truth.

God spoke the world into existence.

Proverbs tells us: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Paul instructs us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

James writes: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Jesus teaches: “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word we speak.”

And He Himself is the Word made flesh.

As we move into this series on Interpersonal Communication and Relationships, this little reminder seems like an important place to start.

We all use words every day. To what effect?

In his book, Communicating for Life, Quentin Schultze calls us “symbolic stewards.” Language, he writes, is a gift that we have been given by God alone. And—just as with all of the other resources at our disposal—creation, time, money—we have a responsibility to take good care with our communication and use it wisely.

Just imagine a world in which we all steward this particular gift in a God-honoring way!

In what ways can you use your words today to bless and to bring life?

1 thought on “Why We Need to Watch Our Words

  1. Wow! Last Sunday our Pastor gave everyone a card with a match glued to it with the scripture in James reminding us the tongue is like a fire. It can set ablaze.

    It also reminded me of words my father and step mother told me when I was a kid. That it is still as painful now as it was all those years ago. Thank you for sharing this. It is a good reminder to steward our words wisely. I know I have been careless with my words and have trampled the hearts of my love ones. I will be accountable to God for those unbridled words. Thank you for sharing and reminding me.

    My son Anthony got your book, pierced and embraced for me. Wow! I needed this too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *