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Words Can Hurt: 8 Ways We Wound Others

Written by Mark Vroegop on

2020 will be known for many things.

But it won’t be remembered as the Year of Thoughtful Words.

Careful and kind communication seem rare these days. In the culture, media, and the church, I’m sure you’ve been grieved about what is said and how we talk. Outrage and passive-aggressive words are everywhere. We see it. We feel it. We hear it.

If we’re honest—we do it.

Throughout the Bible, godly speech is a familiar theme:

  • Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19–20).
  • When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Prov. 10:19)
  • Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent (Prov. 17:27–28).

James and Proverbs plead for self-control with our words. It’s easy to reduce the spiritual-maturity filter between our heart and mouth. And this is especially true when we are upset, angry, or fearful.

Words hurt.

However, the challenge is that we can always find someone worse to compare ourselves to. Sometimes it’s helpful to get specific with our sinful words so that we can embrace repentance.

8 Ways to Wound with Words

A survey of a few texts in the New Testament provides helpful clarity. Based upon 2 Corinthians 12:20, Titus 3:1-2, and Ephesians 4:31, consider which of the following applies to your words:

  • Lying: not being truthful
  • Rudeness: unkind communication
  • Gossip: sharing information needlessly and hurtfully
  • Slander: untrue accusations
  • Quarreling: looking for and creating arguments
  • Divisiveness: creating unnecessary division
  • Scoffing: talking in a way that diminishes others
  • Clamor: verbal combat

The challenge with this list is that we know these things are wrong. But the pressure of the moment, the angst in our heart, or the frustration that we feel, cause us to act in a manner that we know is wrong.

Which sinful expression is an issue for you? Where do you need God’s grace in your life?

Don’t allow anger to weaponize your words one more day. Ask God to help you, by his grace, to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

The article was originally published on

Mark Vroegop

Mark was called as the Lead Pastor of College Park in 2008. In this integral role, he is the primary teaching pastor for the North Indy congregation, and he works alongside the pastors and elders to implement our mission of igniting a passion to follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (M. Div.). Mark approaches ministry with a unique blend of passion for Jesus, a love for the Word, and a desire to see lives changed. He is a conference speaker, Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, contributor to 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep With Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. Prior to serving at College Park, Mark served at a church in western Michigan for 13 years. He married his wife, Sarah, in 1993, and they have four children, as well as a daughter in heaven due to an unexpected still-birth in 2004.
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