I remember when I was in grade school and some child was being bullied and was brave enough to say to the bully, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." In trying to get the other child (or group of children) to stop, the bullied child was trying to imply their taunts were not getting anywhere.
We now know those poor children were wrong. Words can hurt you. Not only can those words hurt, but countless numbers have been so adversely affected the damage to their self-esteem lasted for a lifetime. Withdrawal and depression often result from being bullied in the past.
The most serious consequence for this callous behavior has been suicide. New words have even been created for this terrible outbreak. "Bullycide" refers to a suicide committed as a result of being bullied. Cyberbullying is so prevalent that new laws and policies are being developed to try to control it.
Statistics are staggering. At the time of this writing, nearly 30 percent of students are bullies or victims of bullying, bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims and in Britain at least half of suicides among young people were related to bullying.
Relationships have been crushed and lives have been destroyed because of words. Even in America, where the law clearly states that one is innocent until proven guilty, the mere accusation of a crime can ruin a life.
The Bible is full of warning about this very thing. The verses that have to do with our controlling our tongue - our speech - are abundant throughout scripture. Once when I did a detailed study of Proverbs, I was taken with the number of references to the words of the wicked and the terrible consequences of those words.
Jesus was on the receiving end of this kind of evil. He was human and I am certain those words hurt. His bullies eventually had Him hung on a cross. For your sake and for mine, He allowed this to happen so that we could be with Him someday where words will never hurt us.
Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37).