Words that Cut
In his play, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare pens, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” These words scripted for Shylock, a Jew, were spoken by him to bring a point. We all suffer when inflicted by pain. None of us are immune; all of us suffer in like manner. And nothing can cause more pain than words.
Words spoken carelessly. Words spoken in anger. Words spoken in fear, in revenge. Words form a weapon each of us carry. They can build up, they can tear down. They can start wars and they can start love. No license is required to carry this weapon, yet it can be one of the most deadly in the human arsenal. Their effect can be lifelong and devastating.
Words can cut deep.
All of us are made in the image of God. We are not God, we are not perfect. But we’ve all been created after His image. When God condemns murder, the shedding of blood (even before the ten commandments), the reason He gives is that the victim has been created in His image. All of us bear His likeness; and to take the life of one created in the image of God is a direct affront to God himself. It offends His beauty. The fact that we are a reflection the God of the universe brings us great value.
Words can be knives that cause the soul bleed. When we attack another with vicious riling, we attack the artwork of the Creator. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6). God was serious about shedding the blood of another and He is serious about our words toward one another. And about each other.
Jesus said that if someone is angry with another person, he is guilty of murder; a sentence that falls on each of us! Out of our anger flow accusations, judgments, words that tear and deride. None of us are blameless. We’ve all sunk into this sin at one time or another.
But there is mercy. For words also have the power to bring life. And God’s words say, “I offer mercy for your failures, redemption for your sin.”
How do you know someone has received the mercy and forgiveness of God? He who is forgiven much will forgive much. Angry words flow less and less out a person who’s been relieved of the heavy weight of guilt.
God’s creation is beautiful. And that is what you are. You are His creation, artwork made after the image of the Creator. Fallen but beautiful; imperfect but valuable. And the words God, the Father, speaks to you are not judgement and accusation, but rather pleading and invitation - Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.