For over 170 years, children everywhere have chanted some version of “Sticks and Stones, “ first published in England, in response to the hurtful words of another. Sadly, this little rhyme is proven untrue before too many years of one’s childhood pass. Hurtful words are part of Satan’s game, and they can feel like sharp, poking sticks or heavy stones too burdensome to carry.
Name-calling is almost a rite of passage in childhood. Here are just a few taunts from the history books: Greedy Gut (1550), Fatty (1797), Cry Baby (1852). And a child’s last name wasn’t safe from teasing words either: “Brown, Brown, you’re a clown,” was often repeated to those with this common name.
As adults, we can chuckle at these childish sayings, but as followers of Christ we may find ourselves on the receiving end of insults that do hurt when we attempt to share the life-giving truths found in God’s Word. Insults such as “phobic,” “hater,” “judgmental,” and “self-righteous” are some popular tools of the enemy. Phrases that reach our ears like sharp little weapons tempting us to reconsider what we believe, or retaliate, or simply remain silent. Although we face the pressure of being misunderstood, or accused of being self-righteous, speaking what is true is always God’s way when it is done in love:
Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ]. Ephesians 4:25
Jesus understands the pain of insults and being misunderstood, yet He never wavered from sharing the truth with those around Him who questioned what was right. Sticks and stones may break our bones, and names will likely hurt us… But we live in a lost and disillusioned world that is looking for the truth, so we cannot always remain silent.