A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. (James 3:3, 4 MSG)
I can’t remember the statistic exactly, but it takes something like 20 positive comments to erase the effect of 1 negative one. I think the ratio is even higher than that actually. My husband has often mentioned in our 20 years of marriage that I still don’t believe it when he tells me I’m pretty. That’s because I never heard it when I was growing up. And did, in fact, hear joking comments to the contrary.
I was single for more years than I’ve been married, so maybe that’s why the numbers haven’t caught up yet. I tell my kids that they aren’t allowed to say things like “look at you–you’re so fat!” (My kids are all slim.) Even the joking and the “Just kidding” afterwards doesn’t negate the negative affect of the words.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Such a great and wise instruction. May it be so for all of us today.