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Words Mean Something

Briefing: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. How often do police get called to an incident involving words?

Dispatch (Assignment): What kind of offense can a person violate with their words? How many laws can you think of that involve words? Read Proverbs 18:20-21.

On the Street: Do words mean anything? My good friend, and Pastor of Nations for Cottonwood Baptist Church, Dave Bollenbacher has a saying, “Words mean something”. I don’t know if he coined the phrase but he was the first person who introduced it to me.

What does the Bible say about our use of words? Proverbs 18:21 sums it up like this, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. The tongue speaks words. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Words mean something. Our words to others mean something. We can build up or tear down with our words. The biggest problem I have with my words are not saying negative things to others but the defensive words I speak. When I am challenged or embarrassed I feel entitled to respond with sharp responses and remarks. At one time in my life I was pretty good with the quick, sharp, hurtful, comeback. It actually gave me great pride to vomit on someone with my words.

As law enforcement officers we know firsthand how words can hurt someone. One thing I have never understood is how an officer is supposed to be above being injured by words. I have often heard that a LEO cannot legally be offended by someone’s words. I have had to stand still and bite my tongue on several occasions while someone “vented” to me. You can imagine what words and curses have been spoken about me and my family.

I find it interesting how easily I can put myself in the place of the victim and understand how bad words can hurt me, but it is not as easy as putting myself in the place of the offender and understanding how I have hurt others with my words. We have to this to be able to change. Ask yourself how you have been the offender, not the victim.

Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV).

Investigational Resources: For more on how powerful the word is, read John 1:1-18. There are more Proverbs that speak about how we use our words than I have room. The investigational resource I suggest for this topic is the entire book of Proverbs.

Officer Safety Principle: Chose your words carefully. Remember, fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.

from The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!