There’s a well-known proverb that talks about the words we use. You heard it on the playground as a kid. Maybe you came crying into the house and your parents tried to encourage you with this proverb. It goes like this - sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Author Wayne Mack says that this is “one of the biggest lies ever foisted on the human race. . .it certainly wasn’t coined by someone who accepts God’s perspective on speech or by anyone on the receiving end of careless, unwholesome talk.”

So today I’d like to take you with me through a thought experiment. Let’s walk through a normal day in our normal lives–but let’s take out our normal eyes and put in special eyes. These eyes aren’t like Superman’s eyes that can see through solid objects or emit laser beams. These eyes are very disturbing to look through, like the kid who could see dead people in The Sixth Sense. These eyes can physically see the emotional impact words have on people.

Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

So, you’re out running an errand and you pull up to a stoplight. You look over at the car stopped next to you and you see a husband and wife talking. You can’t hear them. The windows are rolled up. A splatter of blood hits the side window, and the wife crumples against the glass in pain. You’re horrified. But just before you look away, the husband coughs blood and leans on the steering wheel, to prop himself up while he tries to recover from a return attack. The light turns green, and you speed away, trying to rid your mind of the gory images.

Four friends walk silently side by side as you pull up to Target. They all have multiple open gashes on their arms. A smiling employee welcomes you into the store but has no arms. You see blood trails down all the aisles. Scarred and wounded people smile or stare blankly. No wonder people act the way they do, they’re in so much pain from words.

You dodge a body that is laying on the floor and swing your cart around a corner. You’re flying into the canned food aisle at Formula 1 speeds, but stop dead in your tracks. There, right in front of your special fresh eyes, is the most marvelous thing you’ve ever seen. A mother is resting her hand on her teenage son’s shoulder. He’s crying and has a blood-soaked hand over a deep wound in his neck. As she looks into her son’s eyes, you see her words flow and glow mid-air, like swirling waves of golden dust. As the shimmering waves circle and pour into the boy’s ears, he lifts his hand and you gawk in amazement. The layers of open flesh are reconnecting and closing, one at a time, until it has healed completely, with an almost imperceptible scar as the only evidence of the damage done.

Racing home after checking out, you wonder what you will see when you get there. What scars and open wounds will your loved ones be suffering from? How bad will it be? How much of the damage will have been yours? Glancing in the rearview mirror, you see the marks on your own face. Your hair seems to be matted down with blood on the left side. You wince in pain as you touch it–and your mind flashes back to the conversation you had after church with a close friend.

Then you remember the miraculous healing you saw. You remember Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” But now you believe it like you never have before. Real wounds, real healing. Actual death or life. You pull into your driveway and put the car in Park, like you have a thousand times. But you pause, lower your face, and pray. “Lord, I’m terrified to go inside and see what the world has done–what I’ve done–to my family. I confess my words are often rash–I am not slow to speak or as slow to anger as I should be. Please forgive me. And by your grace and Spirit in me, please bring healing and life. I want us to spend our evening eating the fruits of life-giving words, not hurting and with swords drawn and ready. Amen.”