Crossroads: Anger and Words

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Matthew 5:21-26

Your Story

Have you ever said something in anger that you immediately regretted? Has someone ever said something to you that really hurt? Talk about one of those experiences.

My Story and the Bible Story

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” How many times did we say this to someone growing up? How many times have you heard it before? When I said this as a kid, it was because someone had said something hurtful and mean to me, and I said it to cover up the fact that those words did hurt. Those words made me angry and they made me sad. And if those hurtful words were said by a good friend? Well, then they hurt that much more. Words are important. Our words can help somebody or they can hurt someone. Read Matthew 5:21-26. From The Message:

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. This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.

“The simple moral fact is that words kill.” Wow. Jesus understood that simply obeying the commandment “do not murder,” wasn’t enough. Throughout history, people have used words to hurt others, and at times, those words have had deadly consequences. There have been times when we were so hurt by words that we dreaded going to school or we didn’t want to ever talk to someone again. Words can hurt.

Our words are powerful. Our anger is powerful. When we get angry, if we aren’t careful, we can lash out at others, wanting them to hurt as much as we do. Anger can make us do things that we didn’t think we would ever do. You may be angry at someone so you make fun of them about something. And pretty soon, everyone at school is making fun of them. Your words hurt that person deeply.

So when you get angry—and there will be times when you are very angry—think about what you say. Remember the love of God that lives in you. Ask God for help you control your anger. Ask God for help you let it go. It’s hard not to hurt someone when they hurt you, but remember that words are powerful. People can use words to hurt you and you can use words to hurt others. But Jesus said that, when you have hurt someone, you should ask for forgiveness. And when others hurt you, forgive them. God forgives us no matter what we do. And God calls us to forgive others too. So before you say something, think about it. Are your words going to help someone? Or are they going to hurt them? Remember what Jesus said and focus on words that help, not hurt.

Discussion

• Ask your children to talk about times when they have been hurt by something someone said. Be sensitive to their pain. Make sure to remind them that you love them and that God loves them and created them to be who they are (particularly if they have low self-esteem as a result of being bullied).
• Ask your children to talk about times when they have hurt others by things they have said. What happened? Did they apologize?
• Talk about ways they can change their words to be less hurtful or ways that they can learn how to control their anger (if this is an issue).

Prayer

Thank God for reminding you how important words are. Ask for help in thinking before you speak. Ask for help in forgiving others who have hurt you with their words.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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