Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This may be the biggest lie told to and by children. I don’t know where we picked up that phrase, but it is 100% false. Words often hurt much worse than sticks and stones. A cut or a bruise will heal fairly quickly, but a stab to the heart by an unkind word…that sticks around much longer.
At one point or another we have all been hurt by the words of a healthy person. Those words may have been spoken in anger or with malice, but often the words that hurt the most come from loved ones who don’t quite get it. When this happens, it is much too easy to lash out with a sharp reply. As expected, our return of hurtful words does nothing to improve the situation or make us feel better. So what do we do?
Psalm 34 has some answers. This Psalm is David’s song of celebration after God delivers him from a dangerous situation. It is also a Psalm instructing us how to live a life that honors God, even in the midst of suffering. As we continue our journey, taking a closer look at Psalm 34, we’re going to study the words of this madman that we know to be a very sane David, King of Israel.
Two weeks ago we talked about a madman’s fear and how God can give us good things, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Today we are going to talk about a madman’s desire. Psalm 34:11-14 (ESV) reads:
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
1. Keep your tongue from evil.
2. Keep your lips from speaking deceit.
3. Turn away from evil.
4. Do good.
5. Seek peace.
6. Pursue peace.
The first thing to do when someone says something unkind to you is keep your mouth shut! I’m sure I’m not the only one whose mother told her, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It may seem childish, but it’s really pretty good advice! Hold in that tongue and keep your lips sealed. It’s the first step to living a good life.
The second thing to do is turn away from evil. Sure, this could mean walking away, but it could also mean turning away from the evil in your own heart that wants to lash back with an unkind answer. Instead, keep your mouth shut until you can take step number three.
Do good. If someone says something unkind to you, say something nice to them. It may just shock the fight right out of them! This is especially good to do when the person who said something unkind to you isn’t aware that their words were unkind. You can do good by being kind to them and taking step number four.
Seek peace. Kindly explain to the person why their words hurt you. If the person cares about you, they will want to know so that they can change their behavior in the future. If the person doesn’t care, or continues to say hurtful things to you, then go on to step six.
Pursue peace. Peace doesn’t come easily. It’s something to be worked at, strived for. It’s important to note that not every situation is going to be able to be resolved peacefully. If the other person doesn’t want to live peacefully with you, that is on them. Do your best to pursue peace by doing good to them. God only holds you accountable for your own actions.
I can hear you saying it, “But what if the other person doesn’t deserve peace?” Here’s my question for you… Do you deserve peace? In God’s eyes, we have all failed miserably. As we worship God fully and understand His love for us, our lives and our actions will begin to reflect His – and He is a God of mercy, love, and understanding.
I know this will be hard, but with God’s help, you can do it! Go forth peacemakers, and live today well!
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason,
full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness
is sown in peace by those who make peace.” ~ James 3:17-18