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  • Shawn Thornton

Reckless Words

Wednesday - February 10th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 3:1-12

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,

but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18


My history teacher in 7th grade let students mouth off to her in ways that were not appropriate. She loved to give verbal jabs just as much as she loved getting them. Mrs. Harmon and I developed a back-and-forth of verbal insults in the classroom that was not healthy as I look back. She gave that kind of latitude to certain students and not others, letting it become a part of her classroom culture.


Mrs. Harmon enjoyed referencing me as the "the skinny kid" or "sticks" as she called on me in class to answer a question. "Sticks" became my nickname that year among my friends because of Mrs. Harmon. When signing my yearbook, fellow students often addressed me as "sticks" rather than Shawn.


While my teacher made it fun to exchange insults and comments, I can't believe I got as engrossed in the verbal jabs as I did. Without getting in any trouble or being sent to the principal, she let me call her "Mrs. Witch." To this day, I cringe at how we referenced each other in the classroom. There were two or three of us who got away with and were even encouraged to join the verbal insults and jabs. Beyond that small group of us, the other students seemed to take it all in stride. It was the culture of the classroom.


A year or two later, a classmate shared how much it hurt her that some of us engaged in inappropriate communication in the classroom. She named a few times when she got caught in the crossfire and was insulted by something I had said. Even in my own attempts to explain to her how it was all harmless fun, I felt how disrespectful and disruptive that kind of classroom culture had indeed been. Finally, I just apologized.


James 3:1-12 makes it clear that the tongue can do a lot of damage. Proverbs 12:18 says it quite succinctly: "The words of the reckless pierce like swords." Mrs. Harmon, the other students, and I were wrong in how we talked to each other. Our words were reckless. Others were impacted and wounded by them.


Proverbs 12:18 also says that "the tongue of the wise brings healing." Our words can hurt others with the friendly fire of reckless words. Our words can also bring healing to the hearts and lives of others.


Are innocent bystanders in your home, at work, in your friend circle getting the unintended damage of reckless words? Are your children being harmed by what you say to your spouse? Ask yourself who it is that may not enjoy the friendly banter you have with someone else. Look for ways to bring healing to others by what you say.


Reckless words hurt people (even if that was not their intent). Wise words bring healing to everyone!

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