Jesus said, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’
I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.
Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court.
Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire.
The simple moral fact is that words kill.”
Matthew 5:21-22 (The Message)
As a protection from hurtful words we were taught a playful little chant:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
But they do hurt.
And the scars left from murderous words run deep.
Cutting to the marrow, separating soul and flesh.
When words like stones pummel our bodies,
When words like sticks are used to thrash our hearts,
When words become weapons of mass destruction,
When words carelessly slip from our mouths
and cascade like runaway boulders down the mountainside,
remind us, O God, of Stephen.
As rocks rained down upon him,
punishment for opening his heart to see your glory,
as each stone and pebble pounded him,
he had the grace and mercy to cry out,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60, NIV)
Please, Lord God, don’t hold our sins against us.
Please, Lord God, don’t hold the sins of others against them.
Living Word, guide our hearts and our words,
that everything we say and do might be acceptable and pleasing in your sight,
that we might preach good news with word and deed,
that we might forgive as we have been forgiven.
Give us words of hope and comfort
for the families of miners affected by the fire in Soma, Turkey.
Give us words of reconciliation and mourning
as the 9/11 memorial opens in New York City, United States.
Give us words of peace and understanding
as tensions rise between China and Vietnam over an oil drilling rig in disputed waters.
Give us words of anger, but not of sin,
as hundreds of girls from Chibok, Nigeria, are still held captive by Boko Haram.
Give us words of responsibility and action
as bread lines grow increasingly long, tense, and sometimes violent in Venezuela.
Amid all the changing words of our generation,
speak your Living Word.
As we listen,
as we hear,
create within us hearts of love,
and breathe into our lungs the fresh air of new life.