Sticks and Stones
Posted on 03/31/2019 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
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You've probably heard the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." It's an old nursery rhyme that was meant to help children deal with name-calling by other kids.
Most of us would probably agree that words can, indeed, hurt. But what ARE words? They are sounds. In themselves, they are nothing more than vibrations. And while vibrations, if loud enough, can hurt the ears, words themselves cannot hurt anyone.
It is the mind itself which causes pain as it reacts to the perceived meaning of the words. So, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," just might actually be true.
It would be more accurate to say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but my mind can destroy itself by reacting to the meanings it thinks certain vibrations are meant to convey."
Not nearly as catchy though.
But with that in mind, let's take a quick look at a little bit of Scripture.
Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) says this:
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
We love the tongue, don't we? We desire kind words. We desire praise. We take words SO seriously. Our entire day can be made or destroyed by our mind's reaction to just a few little words.
Or, rather, our perception of our day can be made or destroyed, in our mind, by our mind, while the day itself remains the same, untouched, unchanged, by those sounds.
We eat the fruit of the tongue because we love it so much.
For children, the mind retains the perceived meanings of words. Those words could be spoken regularly, or they could be spoken only once. And the mind is shaped by what it hears.
As adults, nearly all of us are still asleep in the dream world of the mind. That imaginary person we think we are, which was shaped by the mind in response to words that were spoken or events that took place, that fictional being controls our actions, our choices, and our destiny.
And THAT is the power of death, and the power of life that are in the tongue: it is the RESPONSE to those sounds, coupled with the IDENTIFICATION with the imaginary person we think we are, that holds the power of death, and the power of life.
So if you struggle with words that were spoken to or about you in the past, it might be helpful to stop and consider that they were not actually spoken to or about YOU. Instead, they were spoken to or about the fictional character you have always THOUGHT you were, and who you THINK you are today.
That person has a beginning, changes with time, and will some day fade away. But YOU, the LIFE you feel in your body, the PRESENCE that observes, without labeling or judging, the SILENCE that comes after a raging storm, THAT is what you are.
And words are simply tools you use. Sounds. Vibrations. Powerless in themselves.
Usually our mind is the one who uses words to communicate with other minds. But INSPIRED words come from somewhere deeper, and they ultimately are directed to communicate with the Life that is underneath the mind and the mind-made person hearing them.
In John 12:49, Jesus says that the Father gives Him the words He speaks. And in Matthew 12:36-37, He says this:
36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Are your words inspired? Or are they idle ramblings of an imaginary character created by the earthly mind? Do they build up and bring Life to the hearer, pointing them TO Life?
Or are they selfish, hurtful, angry, or careless, and do they point to worldly things, earthly attachments, carnal dramas, and things that are passing away?
Of course we can and must talk about those things, but not as though they are what really matters. What really matters is LIFE -- PRESENCE. Everything else is passing away.
And the best way to speak words that are inspired, is to dwell in that place of Presence, in the holy temple of God, your body, where God fully resides.
Idle words will tell you you're not there. And when they do, just bring your attention back into the temple. And from there, allow your mind to be filled with GOOD things, when it is filled with anything at all.
Things that are noble, things that are pure, things that are lovely, things that see the good in everyone and in every situation.
And when the mind produces negative thoughts, selfish thoughts, angry thoughts, hurtful thoughts, from that deep place of Presence, just observe the thoughts as they come, and as they fade away, and then watch as the sun comes out again, and the silence after the storm fills your atmosphere with Peace, Joy, and Love.