“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” … until they do.
We all know the power of a woman’s words. Whether they are used for good or evil, they often cut deep. We learn very early in life that our internal wounds take the longest to heal.
I remember hurtful words from others (usually other girls) going all the way back to grade school.
There is always that one girl. The mean girl everyone else follows and her words strike like an adder to the heart.
In middle school, Caroline had the locker above mine. She rained down hurtful jokes and painful words which she always followed with “just kidding,” as protection in case someone in authority was listening. The part that hurt the most? Caroline and I had been friends when we were younger, but I became the exact target she needed to boost her own self-esteem.The lightning speed of social media and the barrage of 140 character daggers.Click To Tweet
The Apostle James wrote scathingly of the power of the tongue, comparing its destructive power to a fire out of control. This is common knowledge and experience among women burned by the words of another. The flipside is that the power of a tongue reigned by discernment and wisdom is also great.
When handled with proper respect and care fire is one of the greatest assets of humanity. It warms us, cooks our food and even provides an emotional bond around a campfire or hearth. We use fire to fight fire with controlled burns that benefit wildlife and reduce the potential for an out of control fire.
The stories of two women with such discernment and humility literally bookend the life of the prophet Samuel. Hannah’s story is found in the first chapter of 1st Samuel, while Abigail’s story immediately follows his death in chapter 25. Both women found themselves in difficult living situations.
Hannah had to contend with a rival wife who mocked her barrenness. I cannot even imagine the pain this inflicted year after year as she ached for a child and listened to the cruel words of her rival. Even her husband’s loving words could not make up for the loss she felt. It would have been easy to give up hope or respond back in anger.
She actively prayed to the Lord about her desire to be a godly mother and committed her efforts back to Him. Even as a humble, barren woman, she implored God to come to her aid.
Abagail’s husband’s name actually means foolish, and the Bible describes him as a harsh, possibly cruel, man. How many of us have known or lived with men whose poor decisions and harsh words were a constant scourge to their wives? Living day in and day out with such a man wears down the soul of a woman fearful of his reaction and temper.
She recognized the danger of her foolish husband and took steps to intervene on his behalf. She saved his life and her livelihood. She not only saved herself but saved the future King David from a terrible act of violence her husband had done.
Even in the face of their struggles both women acted deliberately and wisely. Their words not only tempered the flames around them but redirected them into a benefit for everyone involved. They both saw success through their humility and words born out of discernment rather than emotion. In their respective weaknesses, they displayed a strength of character and were rewarded.Neither Hannah nor Abigail were wilting violets but took the offensive in unconventional ways.Click To Tweet
Today we face more danger than ever with the lightning speed of social media and the barrage of 140 character daggers. The relative anonymity of our screens encourages a lack of respect and common decency that at times can seem like a raging firestorm.
In today’s world, humility is equated with weakness rather than virtue. The truth of humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Neither Hannah nor Abigail were wilting violets but took the offensive in unconventional ways. They are both excellent examples of the ability of discernment to direct the power of our words for good rather than evil.
What we learn from these two women helps us to prepare before the battle ever begins. Holding our tongue is hard. Acting with love rather than reacting in anger even harder. Praying for those who persecute you is a difficult burden bearing much fruit.
In a world where words are bandied about at lightning speed without care to who might intercept them, we can choose to make a difference, to be the exception. We can act with true humility and wisdom. How will you harness that power of your words today?
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