Do you truly understand the power of words?
I thought I did. My hobbies, my career, my goals – all relate in some fashion to the use of words, written or spoken.
And then, Stopping Word That Hurt. It has been a while since I read a work that challenged me, pulled and stretched, and at the end of reading, I felt I had not only expanded my mind but my Self through reading it.
Dr. Sedler has been both teacher and counselor along his career path, and this shows in the way he does not talk down to his reader, but speaks directly to them, in a firm tone of authority. There is no hedging in his demeanor, no gray area in his text. His chapters have a stark clarity about them, like the crisp contrast you see through a properly calibrated microscope. It took me a little bit to get used to his style, but once I did, I completely enjoyed the book.
“There is something about putting words in writing that creates hesitation and even fear in people. We call it accountability.” – pg 42
Accountability – that is the core theme of Stopping Words That Hurt. As children, we are taught that gossiping and careless words are hurtful, and that we should watch what we say, but do we truly understand why? What’s the harm in tossing a little “aside” to the audience? And how binding are the words we speak on ourselves or others?
To answer, let me share with you a new Bible insight I learned during my reading of the book. Dr. Sedler brings up the story of the Fiery Furnace, a favorite of Sunday Schools everywhere. But he focuses on something I had always overlooked. King Nebuchadnezzar built his statue and commanded all people of his entire nation to bow down to it. The entire nation of Babylon. Now honestly, if three guys didn’t bow down, how was he to know? Well, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were already set apart because they, along with Daniel, had become high officials in Babylon through the Lord’s favor. There were those who were jealous of their success. So they murmured, they gossiped, and when they had enough people to support them, they went to the king with their accusations. We know how the end of that story turned out. That’s a pretty cool “extra” to add to your Bible story, but have you ever caught what happened next? After they were saved from the fire, King Nebuchadnezzar declares all who speak against God will be punished. Some time passes, and the king happens to speak out in pride against God, and is stricken to live like an animal until he repents. His punishment came as a fulfillment of his own decree. I had never seen that correlation.
With many other examples Dr. Sedler drives home how words really do hold incredible power, and that we are accountable for how we use them. So then, the question becomes. how are we to interact with others?
“Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender, but by how effectively we assist in the effort to restore an offender.” – pg.47
“When a person falls into a sinful pattern, our greatest desire should be for restoration not consequences. for repentance not persecution, for humility not embarrassment.” – pg. 84
Stop and think a moment. Did Jesus ever shame or humiliate someone into repentance, into a relationship with him? Then why often, does the Church, trying to be Christ’s hands and feet on earth, act like that is the way to reconcile the world? This point gave me many things to think about, and I weigh everything I write or speak much more carefully now.
I’ve not even begun to scratch the depths of the many new insights and truths Dr. Sedler gave me a new understanding on. There’s much more on the topic of gossip and murmuring:
How odd that people spend so much time and energy coveting what is not theirs, and so little time and energy cultivating what is given to them by God! – pg. 77
As well as the power of words of encouragement. Something for you to ponder – why do we give more weight to the critic than the encourager in our lives?
These, as well as many other examples of the way words impact our lives, and how to use their power in uplifting ways, how to avoid and diffuse the negative.
Each chapter has extra verses and reading suggestions for context and further research, and closes with a few questions to think about. At the end of the book is a strong call to reconciliation – I personally found it to be very convicting and it stirred me to action in my own life.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley