By Billy Graham • September 9, 2008
We all know what it’s like to be hurt by someone’s words. Often (perhaps more than we realize) they were simply spoken thoughtlessly or carelessly. But sometimes they weren’t; they were meant to sting — and they did. The Bible talks about malicious people who “sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows” (Psalm 64:3).
Either way, when others criticize us or say something hurtful, our first reaction should be to ask ourselves if there is any truth in it. If so, we need to face it honestly and ask God to help us correct it. The Bible bluntly warns that “he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1).
But even when words are spoken maliciously or in anger, we need to turn our hurts over to God and ask Him to help us respond with forgiveness and grace. This isn’t easy, I know — but it is the best course. Gently tell your friend that you’re sorry if you did anything to upset her, and if you misunderstood her intentions you hope she’ll forgive you. But she needs to know that her words hurt you; she may not even realize it.
In addition, make sure that your own words aren’t hurtful. Instead, make it your goal to encourage others and help them by what you say. Make the psalmist’s prayer yours: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).