harsh words penetrate the soul

Stick and Stones Break Bones But Harsh Words Penetrate the Soul

Many people may remember the children’s nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words (names) will never hurt me.” It was a rhyme that was written to help children deal with hurtful name-calling.  It fails greatly to truly deal with the issue of name-calling.  It is true that sticks and stones may break our bones but what a lie to say that words will never hurt.

Actually broken bones heal far quicker than damage done by negative and hurtful words.  Following I want to present the case of how we must be careful of our words. Not just our words, but also the words we believe.  Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  This is prevalent in our society.

The Source

Matthew 15:19 states that the source of our thoughts and therefore our words is the heart.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is sick and not to be trusted. James 3 states that our tongues are set aflame by hell, meaning used by Satan for his wicked purposes.  In our sin, we often believe the lies from this world and from Satan. We are often the best at even lying to ourselves.

The most dangerous thing isn’t just the words spoken but rather if you believe them.  If you allow someone else to define who you are with their words, then you will become what they say and have allowed yourself to submit to them instead of to the word of God.  Be careful that the source of the words is not someone’s imagination fed by lies, but from the truth of the word of God.  Satan may say God doesn’t care but Psalms 139 shows the truth of how much God truly does care for you.

The battle is always between the truth and the lie.  What are you allowing yourself to believe? Be reminded the source of much of what you let into your mind is not of God.

The Pain to Our Bodies

It feels more often that words are more destructive and stay with us longer than broken bones.  The type of emotional and ideological trauma that happens from words tends to stay with us longer than we like.  They have done studies that show under a MRI that when negative words are spoken stress producing hormones and neurotransmitters are released.

The more that you let your mind dwell on these things, the more it damages your ability for maintaining good health, physically and emotionally.  In a sense, where your thoughts go, your destiny goes (James 3:3-5).  You steer yourself according to the words spoken, either by someone else or yourself.  The more you dwell on what’s negative, the more it puts you into a hole.  There are examples of so many that let words affect them to the point of taking their own lives.

Again, this issue is not just about the words said, but how much we allow ourselves to believe those words.  Don’t let yourself be ruled or taken by lies.  You can’t help the way you feel when harsh words are spoken, but you are responsible for what you dwell on after that.  Will you allow yourself to be ruled by harsh words or lies or will you instead focus to dwell on what is right.

The Battle Over Words

2 Corinthians 10:5 states, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”

It is clear there is a battle going on. We can see this even more clearly today with the proliferation of words seen on the Internet.  There are many harsh words and name-calling going on such as bigot, jerk, narrow-minded, etc.  These are words meant to have an impact. People from the sin of their heart will say harsh things, and always with a purpose.

We have to look at the reason and the desired affect of these harsh words. We have to ask if they are true or not.  Often the desired affect is for you to take a word such as “narrow-minded” or “unloving” and be convinced that of yourself.  But we must take every thought captive.  When you are called something, ask is that true?  Am I narrow-minded and is it wrong to be narrow-minded?  I don’t think I’m narrow-minded but Christ-minded.  The only kind of mind that is truly narrow is that which rejects Christ.

This type of mind will only accept what the world ruled by Satan says is truth. A mind that accepts Christ must be open to everything the Bible says about God, Christ and man.  This is narrow thinking to the world, but it is open to God.  Look also at the harsh words of empty philosophy.

Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “All existing things are born for no reason, continue through weakness and die by accident…It is meaningless that we are born; it is meaningless that we die.” The philosophy of atheism or any philosophy that derives from naturalism or man is empty and destructive.  This harshness from the world must be overcome by the truth of God’s word, which gives hope.

But, we know that there are harsh words in the Scripture.  What are we to say about the words that cause negative reactions in people?  Should we avoid the harsh words of the Bible and only focus on the positive ones? The answer is no. The answer to this then is to be filled with the whole council of God.

Only God’s word can give us the true balance between harsh truth and blessed hope.  For example, Romans 6:23a states “For the wages of sin is death…”  This should create a negative reaction in us.  This should cause pain in us.  And, if we truly dwelt only on that, we would definitely see the pains manifest in us physically from this. The problem of the pain of guilt is something this world cannot answer. Thankfully there is the second part.

Romans 6:23b states, “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus the Lord.”  These are the words of life that come from God.  We must remember that God’s words though harsh are true and ultimately call us back to Himself, the one we have our true identity in.  When the world says of you, you are a product of this universe, God says you were made in His image.


We have to stop allowing ourselves to become victims of harsh words or causing others to become victims to ours.  We have to examine all words and thoughts against the truth of God’s word.  We must not hold back the harsh truth, but lead them to the words of life, Jesus Christ.  Before you speak, examine your heart and think of the affect it may have in another’s heart.

The Glory of God changes everything


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