“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1: 8-10 ESV
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Wow! Could there be a statement more untrue than that one?
I am the mother of four kids, two boys and two girls. When I watch them fight, in my opinion, the girls are far more vicious. My boys may go overboard, every once in a while, and turn a playful wrestling match into something more like a mild brawl; but that is nothing compared to the verbal atrocities that my girls are capable of unleashing on each other and their brothers.
If women are honest, we know that the phrase “mean girls” hits a little too close to home. So why is it that the female has chosen and perfected her weapon of choice to be words?
To fully understand the answer, I think we have to go all the way back to the beginning, in the garden, and look at Genesis 2: 7-25. God made Adam from the dust of the earth. But for Eve, he took a bone from Adam. This is an interesting difference. God reached into Adam’s side and removed a portion of his rib bone. While Adam slept, God created a mate for him, literally from his flesh and blood. Why would God use a bone from Adam?
Our bones actually produce life. Scripture and science tell us repeatedly that there is life in blood. The marrow in our bones is the factory of blood production, supplying the body with oxygen, nutrients and a defense system. God took this life-giving portion of Adam and created another human being. When Adam saw her, he named her woman, a Hebrew word that means out of man. She was the same, yet she was uniquely different. Adam, as a man, contained life within him to sustain himself, bone and blood. But the woman had bone, blood and a womb. God created woman to be a life-sustainer and a life-giver! However, this is when the enemy enters the scene. Eve chose to reject the Word of God. (Gen. 3: 1-7 ESV) She chose to believe Satan’s lies over God’s truth!
Satan’s greatest weapon in this spiritual war against us has always been and still is words! Labels are used to give something an identity, and all too often we allow others to place labels on us. As you read the list of words below, I want you to be honest with yourself and admit to whether or not you have ever used these words to identify yourself or someone else: fat, lazy, ugly, worthless, stupid, unwanted, bad, incompetent, irresponsible, unloved.
If you identified with any of those words, how do you feel? Are you angry towards the person who gave you that label, or do you blame yourself because you feel responsible for some shortcoming? From an early age, we tend to let the words of others define our identity. Our friends, teachers, siblings, and yes, even our parents help to create the labels we place on ourselves. The result? Shame. Disappointment. Fear.
When Jeremiah was called by God to enter the battle as a prophet, he was hesitant because he believed the label that others had placed on him. Listen to Jeremiah’s response, “‘I don’t know how to speak; I am too young.’” (Jeremiah 1: 6 ESV). Clearly someone in Jeremiah’s life had given him the label of “incapable” or “inexperienced”, and so Jeremiah stood before the Holy God and said, I believe what man has told me about myself to be true. But God didn’t take his “no” as a valid answer. God reminds Jeremiah that He is the author of life, and before he was born, God knew him by his NAME…the only label that is true! (Jeremiah 1: 5 ESV)
God sends Jeremiah into battle not with swords, but with WORDS “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow” the enemy. Then, notice how God ends His command, “to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1: 10 ESV). God gave words to Jeremiah to destroy the enemy and give life.
And so, the battle rages on. Satan continues to deceive and make us listen more closely to the lies being told by those around us than the truth of God. The enemy wages his war by filling our minds and our social media feeds with words that inflict hurt. When we forget whose side of that battle we are on, we too become a part of continuing the hatred and death that was birthed by Eve’s choice in the garden, through the words we inflict upon others.
Today, let’s remember our God-issued label and true identity as followers of Christ. We were created in the image of God, to use our words as He did, not to hurt, but to help and give new life!