Words Can Hurt: 8 Ways We Wound Others

2020 will be known for many things.

But it won’t be remembered as the Year of Thoughtful Words.

Careful and kind communication seem rare these days. In the culture, media, and the church, I’m sure you’ve been grieved about what is said and how we talk. Outrage and passive-aggressive words are everywhere. We see it. We feel it. We hear it.

If we’re honest – we do it.

Throughout the Bible, godly speech is a familiar theme:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19–20).

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Prov. 10:19)

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent (Prov. 17:27–28).

James and Proverbs plead for self-control with our words. It’s easy to reduce the spiritual-maturity filter between our heart and mouth. And this is especially true when we are upset, angry, or fearful.

Words hurt.

However, the challenge is that we can always find someone worse to compare ourselves to. Sometimes it’s helpful to get specific with our sinful words so that we can embrace repentance.

8 Ways to Wound with Words

A survey of a few texts in the New Testament provide helpful clarity. Based upon 2 Corinthians 12:20, Titus 3:1-2, and Ephesians 4:31, consider which of the following applies to your words:

  • Lying: not being truthful
  • Rudeness: unkind communication
  • Gossip: sharing information needlessly and hurtfully
  • Slander: untrue accusations
  • Quarreling: looking for and creating arguments
  • Divisiveness: creating unnecessary division
  • Scoffing: talking in a way that diminishes others
  • Clamor: verbal combat

The challenge with this list is that we know these things are wrong. But the pressure of the moment, the angst in our heart, or the frustration that we feel, cause us to act in a manner that we know is wrong.

Which sinful expression is an issue for you? Where do you need God’s grace in your life?

Don’t allow anger to weaponize your words one more day.

Ask God to help you, by his grace, to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

Mark Vroegop is the Lead Pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis. He’s the author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation.

Watch or listen to the sermon “Be Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak.”