Words Like Toothpaste

“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” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Have you ever tried to put toothpaste back in its tube? It’s not an easy task. Some might even find it impossible.

Harsh or cruel words are like that: once said, you can’t take them back. They are forever burned into the mind of
the hearer.

A child, once told by an unkind teacher that he is dumb, will keep those words in mind unless many, many more come along to say the opposite. I believe they call that a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Remember that old rhyme? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Baloney! Words are extremely painful and destructive.

I hear the words in my classroom: It’s too hard! I can’t do it! I’m not as smart as everyone else!

Where do those thoughts come from? I know I haven’t told them that. And I personally know their 1st grade and kindergarten teachers, and I know they didn’t tell them that.

Who knows. It could have been some careless passing comment from a classmate or friend; but it’s the one that stuck.

I remember negative comments from very early in my life, but I can’t always draw upon the positive.

“The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NIV).

Words, like toothpaste, can do a lot of good. But squeezed out carelessly, they just make a big mess. And they can never be taken back.


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