Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Easily Words Hurt

Words are wonderful things. 
The Word is the most wonderful thing (John 1:1). 
Words are what I do as I study and read, preach and teach, counsel and converse. I try and choose them carefully. I need to, as they are incredibly powerful, often when I least expect them to be.

Our week at Cedarly was spent with our wonderful hosts, Andy & Nancy Hagen, and six others involved in various types of pastoral ministry. It was a joyous mix of Reformed and Pentecostal and E-Free and Lutheran and Presbyterian heritages, all gathered around the dinner table. 

In passing, I was asked about differences between the church in New Zealand and the church in America. And so I waxed eloquent about some cultural differences as exemplified in the divorce rates in the two churches I have been privileged to serve. My spiel was unnecessary. Worse, it was stupid. Worse still, it was unkind. One of my fellow-pastors had recently been through an incredibly painful divorce, and felt judged, I later discovered. 

In that later discussion, where apologies were offered and grace was kindly extended, I was reminded again of the potency of words to heal or to hurt. I realized again, to my shame, that intent and impact are not always related. 

But best of all, I learned afresh that the Word made flesh, who was full of grace and truth (John 1:14), can, if all parties let Him, bring his truth and His grace to our less-than-graceful (dare I say "graceless") words.