"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Prov 12:18
When we possess a humble heart that genuinely loves others and considers them to be more important than ourselves, our desire will be to utter words that heal wounds, not inflict them. Even when we find ourselves in need of offering biblical rebuke, we will feel the burden of articulating truth in such a way that it ministers medicine to the soul even as it cuts through the sections of sin.
Because of the selfish pride that wages war against our spirit, and because of the reckless nature we possess, we all carry potential to utter words that pierce like swords. Even our human limitation in understanding others puts us at risk of speaking injuriously. And sometimes those words can inflict a wound that's deep enough to draw a primal scream from the hearer. A primal scream that is rarely sweet, rarely honoring, rarely respectful. Because when a sword pierces the depths of the heart, it's only natural that it draws a response that pierces the ear.
Nothing should have us taking inventory of our words more than when our articulation results in a primal scream. It should humble us and send us to our knees in sorrow that a deep wound has been inflicted. But sadly, when we're wise in our own eyes, the cry of the wounded doesn't activate our humility, it activates our pride. When we're wise in our own eyes, the cry of the wounded doesn't draw our compassion, it draws our defense.
I am far too often wise in my own eyes, and I find myself desperately fighting against this activation of pride that wants to defend its own righteousness. Especially when in my eyes, my wisdom had me articulating truth powerfully and purely. Hearing that my "words of perfection" hurt more than they healed is an offense to my righteousness. My pride hates the fact that it's somehow being implicated in missing the mark. It hates the fact that it's somehow being implicated in messing up. Entering defense mode, my pride wants to do nothing other than to secure its ranking and seal its reputation.
I'll never forget the time I had spent hours counseling a woman still harboring the pain of childhood abuse. I left my time with her feeling confident the interaction was positive, feeling good that I had successfully identified the selfishness that was hindering her growth and causing turmoil in her relationships. I was shocked when a mutual friend told me the next day that the counseling wasn't a positive experience and that I had said things that had deeply hurt her. The activation of pride was immediate.
Seriously? She felt like I kicked her in the gut? That is so stinkin' ridiculous. She wouldn't know help if it were handed to her on a silver platter.
My pride waged war against my soul the entire evening, and I did what I always do when I'm angered by the perceived injustices of the world. I paced the floor like a caged lion, punctuating each turn with the wild gestures of a crazed New Joisey girl.
But praise God, His mercies that are so beautifully new each day found me, and His grace that is far greater than my sin freed me. All of a sudden, it didn't matter that my intentions were pure. It didn't matter that I had spoken truth. It didn't even matter that I said what I still think she needed to hear. Grace allowed the pain of another to enter my heart, and all that mattered was that my words had pierced like a sword. Grace filled me with compassion. Grace made me repentant that I somehow got in the way of its beauty. Grace saved this reckless soul yet again.