The saying goes, “sticks and stones can break my bones but names (or words) will never hurt me.” I don’t fully subscribe to this idea because our words are powerful. Individually, in pairs, as sentences or paragraphs, words have power to build up or tear down. By the simplicity of words, our complex universe was created. So why do we struggle at times with the power of God’s Word? Is it because the words of man, so near, so clear, so ready and accessible to our senses and situations, can seem more real than “the sincere milk of the Word of God” (1 Pet 2:2)? I experienced a time like this one fall semester just before Christmas break when the words of another severely rocked my world and nearly got me to stray from my newly-found faith in Christ.
John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.”
It was the end of the semester in the dorm room of an acquaintance. I overheard him telling a younger Christian that salvation required specific works carried out through a prescribed formula that others could confirm in order to be considered complete and acceptable to God. I heroically stepped in to set the young man straight and found that I couldn’t articulate the reasons for my faith with Biblical clarity. I read the Bible every day, yet when I left that room, I was dazed and thinking of all the friends I would lose if I believed what I had just heard. His words crushed me. I longed for words that would ground me, but trusted no one on earth to speak them. Desperate, I went to the dorm room of an older Christian, more to challenge than to ask for help. When he opened the door, I was a wreck distraught with confusion. As he welcomed me in, he began by saying, “Ephesians says we are saved by grace through faith…” I stopped him, opened my notes to a verse written earlier in the day and read them. It was the same verse my friend referenced – Eph. 2:8! The words of Scripture and the insights the Father had given me that very morning immediately freed me from the fog of confusion. I understood clearly that salvation was a gift of grace by faith in Jesus Christ!
So whether we experience it as “milk” or a “double-edged sword,” God’s Word is more powerful than sticks and stones or anything else that man’s words could ever do to hurt us.