By Pastor Barry

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As kids, we probably all quoted those words a few times. But I’ve discovered that this little axiom isn’t at all true.

Recently, while speaking in our Sunday morning service, I experienced the most vulnerable moment in my public speaking career. While talking about producing spiritual fruit in our lives, I was noting that Jesus often confronted “bad fruit.” One of those times is described in Luke 6.41. Jesus asks, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I used this verse to talk about the bad fruit of judging others through words.

I consider myself to be thick-skinned when it comes to hearing negative comments. But right there, at that moment, the Holy Spirit confronted me with a hurtful memory about what a pastor once said in a sermon many years ago. Although his words weren’t pointed directly at me, they cut me deeply. He said, “I could never trust the fat pastor.” I have struggled with weight issues my entire life, and those words made me feel that I could never fulfill my call to serve Jesus in ministry.

I hadn’t thought about those words for many years. But right there in the middle of my message, I wept as the Holy Spirit flooded my life with healing. I had no idea that it was so deeply entrenched in me until that moment. So, through the tears, I confessed the pain of those words in front of everyone. I received a great inner-healing from something I had buried and never fully dealt with. But God is faithful to heal. And he chose that moment to do it.

Words can and do hurt sometimes. Sometimes, they come from people who do not intend to hurt us, but still do. The enemy takes words and uses them to inflict deep pain in our lives. Only God can root that pain out and give us freedom.

This experience taught me two things: one, the Holy Spirit can free and heal me anytime he wants, even if it seems like an inopportune time; and two, confession really is good for the soul.

I wonder how many times I have said words that cut someone and wounded them. For that, I can only ask God to heal all those I may have harmed. I know the joy that comes with being set free from the curses of words, and I choose to never intentionally inflict that pain on anyone else.

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us free from the bad fruit of judging others through words. Whether you have experienced it yourself and need to be healed, or you are guilty of inflicting pain on others with your words, allow God to remove that bad fruit from your life. Then the fruit of the Spirit will grow and flourish in us and in everyone we encounter.

-Pastor Barry