Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. -James 3:5-6 (NIV)

Remember the old childhood saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That’s what came to mind when my son, who’s in kindergarten, told me a girl in his class hurt his feelings with her words.

And the other day, when I was reprimanding him for a poor conduct report from school, he angrily looked at me and told me he wanted a new dad. Ouch.

I spoke with him about the power of words. They can maim. They can kill. They leave scars. But most importantly, when viewed through the eyes of compassion, hurtful words reflect the speaker’s hurt and brokenness.

Regardless, we have a choice before we utter such words, because they actually do hurt when spoken and received. Words will only not hurt us when we remind ourselves of our identity in Christ, forgiven and free. But we get hurt when we forget that and get caught up in the escalation of the flesh and pride and anger.

So yes, sticks and stones will break our bones. But, words will only hurt us when we set aside our spiritual armor and identity in Christ, and live in the flesh. Thank you, Lord, for helping us live above our circumstances!