“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Lies. I hate to break it to you, but the old saying, dating back before 1862 is, in fact, NOT true.
Honestly, I started this post in a completely different direction. It had something to do with heavy swords, skill, strategy and Gerard Butler’s beard, but it seems the Lord has something else in mind….maybe. We’ll see.
Let’s start here:
The power of words is something that stretches far beyond sound waves, and yet even the sound waves have the strength to slay giants and destroy lies. So, then why did so many of us grow up saying at school or on the playground or to our siblings “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”?
What if instead we said “sticks and stones may break my bones, and words are really super powerful, so maybe I should wield them carefully.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but still.
The truth is, in Ephesians 6, Paul tells us quite frankly about the power of words…..particularly THE Word.
Let me back up a bit.
There are 2 purposes found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
1. He explains God’s eternal purpose and grace (super light – casual stuff).
2. Paul goes on to explain God’s purpose for the church (again – super casual. Please note my sarcasm**).
The book is split into two different sections: the first being “oneness with Christ” and the second being “oneness with each other, as human beings”.
Why does this matter? It matters because every word leads up to one of the most acknowledged passages of scripture in history….the armor of God. Chapter 6: 11-16 tells the believer to put on a suit of spiritual armor. “Protect yourself against the schemes of the devil”, Paul says. And then…after giving instruction on breastplates, and belts, and shields, and shoes, Paul says: “Take the helmet of salvation and the SWORD of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God.”
When we think of Jesus, we don’t typically think of Him in a full suit of armor. We know He turned tables, but outside of that, the battles He fought weren’t so much about slaying physical giants, as it was slaying spiritual ones. Jesus wasn’t a violent man on earth, but in the spiritual realm…well, let’s just say He is, in fact, Gerard Butler in the movie 300.
But tell me something. Do you believe, during Jesus’ time on earth, that His WORDS were skilled, calculated, delivered with precision and intellect? I most certainly do, and as evidenced in scripture, most theologians would agree. So, why shouldn’t ours be as such? I think that’s what Paul is telling us. He’s telling us to protect ourselves against the schemes of the devil by wielding the Sword of the Spirit, which is the actual Word of God, just as Jesus did.
“Spirit”, in this passage, is the greek word pneuma. It translates to “vital breath”. I love that…it’s vital.
And “Word” translates to the greek word rhēma, which means “too utter by a living voice”. Guys, it’s alive and it’s active! And it’s sharper than any double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
Paul is telling us to pick up our Sword of Vital Breath, which is the Living Voice..the Living Word of God.
Practically speaking, Paul is telling us to use the Word of God to stand against spiritual darkness. Use the Word of God to fight a battle, not of flesh and blood, but against rulers and authorities and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
I’m so challenged, friends. I’m challenged to choose my words carefully. I’m challenged to pick up my Sword, the Word of God, and practice precision, purpose and intellect. I challenge you to do the same. If the enemy thinks we are a bunch of wusses, he’s got another thing coming. I may not be able to grow a manly beard like Gerard Butler in 300 (praise God), but I will slay my spiritual enemies with the strength of the mighty God who moves mountains.
I’ll leave you with this. I work for a nonprofit called Access to Success. We work out of Nigeria, and each year, I have the privilege of going to visit and see how our programs are running. We currently work out of a church called Gospel Ministries Bible Church, and I asked my dear friend, Pastor Ben (who I lovingly refer to as Rafiki), to tell me his thoughts on the Sword of the Spirit. He’s a brilliant mind, filled with precision, purpose and intellect.
Grace and Peace, friends. See you on the battle field.
Since February of 2018, Tiffany has been working as the Communications Manager with a nonprofit organization called Access to Success. She has spent several years living abroad, in China and West Africa, helping with the start up of a children’s home, teaching international students and serving with international nonprofits, in various capacities. Tiffany has a passion for the Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and also making weird art and loud music. Although she’s not internationally known, she’s been known to rock the microphone.