Sticks and Stones

Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?

Job 19:1-2

As the old saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Of course, not all old sayings are good ones.  I think this is an old saying that needs to be “put out to pasture.”  It is simply not true.  The first part of the saying tells us that “sticks and stones may break my bones” is true.  Sticks and stones can indeed break our bones.  But words most definitely can hurt us.  Many times, they can hurt us more than the sticks and stones.

So it with Job in this passage of Scripture.  He has lost everything that he had valued.  He is sitting in ashes, covered with boils.  And instead of trying to help, comfort and encourage him, his friends decide to rail on him.  They accuse him of being an evil man.  They accuse him of all kinds of sins.  They accuse him of being, at best, a prideful hypocrite.  He is none of the above.  But still they continue on with their verbal lashings.

In chapter 19, Job again answers their comments and makes a statement that really stuck out to me: “how long will ye… break me in pieces with words?”  These men, who were supposed to be Job’s friends, were breaking him in pieces with their words.  I’m sure we all know of someone who has been “broken in pieces with words.”  After reading this, I have prayed that the Lord would never let me break someone in pieces with my words.  What a horrible thought – that our words, which could comfort and help, might break someone to pieces. 

Let our words be encouraging and edifying, not designed to tear others down and “break them in pieces.”  As it says in James, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.”  Let’s make sure our words do the right things.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Ben, I like the idea of putting that old saying out to pasture! Although I could easily focus on people who has broken me to pieces with words in my life when reading this post, God has reminded me of how often I have done that to others, especially with my son when he was younger. I am grateful for the Holy Spirit who has taught me to be kinder and a better mom, but I can think of many words I wish I could take back now. Peace, Linda

    Reply

    • This also made me think that I have probably hurt others with my words. I do want the Holy Spirit to help me control my tongue and use it for His glory. It occurred to me after I wrote this that not only can we break a person in pieces directly with our words, but we can do it indirectly with gossip and talking about people behind their backs. In that sense, we are breaking them in the mind of the person to whom we speak. But that is a thought for another day…

      Reply

  2. Oh, me too Linda! I have to ask God to make something good out of all the mess I have made.
    Ben, I was thinking that didn’t one or more of Job’s friends come and just sit with him for awhile? Oh, if they would’ve just stopped there, with the comfort of just having someone come and be with you, in the place where you are. Sometimes we want to fix things, feel like we have to say something. This time in Job with you has been so good! Thanks and God bless!

    Reply

    • They did sit with him for a while- several days, I think. I heard one preacher say that that was the best thing they did. It wasn’t until they started talking that the trouble started and I think that’s an important lesson. It is the best thing that we can do, especially when we don’t understand the whole situation, to just be there for a person who is hurting. That’s a good thought!

      Reply

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