“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” Matthew 5:21-22 (MSG)


Do you remember a time when someone said something hurtful to you? It seems that hurtful words can be etched on our hearts and minds if we let them. We can have a thousand people sing our praises, but the one person’s hurtful words can be the thing that comes to mind the quickest. Words can impact people for life.

Jesus took a new position on an old law. He was referring to the Ten Commandments in the Old Testmament that stated, “Do not murder.”  However, he knew that it would be easy for someone to check that commandment off their spiritual list, because that type of action would result in punishment by the law. Yet, he knew that anger or hatred in your heart toward other people can be dangerous, as well. Anger in our hearts toward others is usually manifested in our words. Speaking out against people with our words can bring lasting damage.  In modern culture, sarcasm and derogatory comments seem to be accepted and excused as being funny.  But, if you have ever said something to someone off hand, the act of being funny loses its meaning when you see the person’s eyes sink.  They may laugh along with you, but they probably aren’t laughing inside. Even when our words are not motivated by anger, they still have the power to shape the people around us.  Don’t you want people to be around you because you breathe life on them? Don’t you want to fan the flame of others’ hopes and dreams by your words? If words have the power to kill someone’s dreams, ambition, or resolve, then they also have the power to give life. You choose.

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.