Words shot from all sides sting and wound. How do I respond?
In the Word
Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit. With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him (Jeremiah 9:8).
Of the Word
No one enjoys being a target or a verbal punching bag. Criticism hurts. Gossip wounds. We feel especially wounded and betrayed by unkind words from someone we considered a friend. We may respond by lashing out or retreating inward. Either way we lose.
How does a Christian respond? Jesus suffered criticism, gossip, scorn, and betrayal. Sometimes He responded with silence — always with love. He taught His disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44b). St. Paul took Jesus as his model. He wrote of himself and other apostles: When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly (1 Corinthians 4:12b–13a).
Love is always at the heart of our Christian response. Sometimes that means speaking up and speaking the truth. As we grow and mature in our faith we are humble, gentle, and patient with one another as Jesus was. And in love we speak the truth to one another as Jesus did.
Walking with my Lord
Lord Jesus, You understand how I feel when words wound me. Make me patient. Make me wise. Help me love as You love. Show me when to speak up and when to keep still. In Your name. Amen.
Mustard Seed: Walking with My Lord. Author: Donna Streufert. 17/30 ©2007 Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, 801 Seminary Place Ste. L010, St. Louis, MO 63105. www.lwml.org
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations were taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.