The other day my seven-year-old daughter said something I wasn’t expecting: “Daddy, I know a bad word.”
Oh no, I thought, my worst fears about the D.C. school system are already coming true.
“Oh really?” I said casually. “What word did you learn?”
“And what word is that?” I asked.
She looked at me sheepishly.
“Go ahead,” I said, “say it.”
“Stupid,” she said quietly.
Calling Down Curses
I felt relieved at first. I was afraid she had learned a real curse word. But that’s exactly what she learned. She learned a word that calls down curses upon people: You’re an idiot. You don’t deserve to be heard. Shut up.
When I was a kid, I saw poet Maya Angelou on The Oprah Winfrey Show and she predicted that one day there would be a machine that could see words as they left people’s mouths and attached themselves to others. Maybe so.
We are made in the image of God, who created the entire universe with words. We worship God the Son, who is literally “the Word” (John 1:1). And with God’s DNA in all of us, our words can’t help but have supernatural power. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
I always thought it was a little over-the-top for Jesus to say that calling someone “stupid” puts the speaker at risk of hell fire (Matthew 5:22). But it seems pretty reasonable if you think about what curse words like “stupid” can do: They can kill people’s sense of self-worth, making them believe that God did a poor job in creating them.
What is Your Name?
I wonder what they called you. Personal insults usually involve belittling another person’s body, mind, or the degree to which they are welcome and loved.
If you remember the toxic names others gave you, then there’s a good chance those curses got down deep inside. They sucked a little bit of life out of you–maybe a lot. There is, however, an antidote.
The one who spoke the world into being gave you a name that brings life and blessing: “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). He took the curses spoken over you, carried them inside His body on the cross “so that we can be dead to sin”–even the sins committed against us. “By His wounds you are healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Grasping that may seem impossible–the effect of those deadly curses runs so deeply. But a day is coming when we will no longer fight the effects of the curses spoken over us. Jesus says that when we die and awaken in His Kingdom, He will give us a stone, and “on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). “The new name is the name of adoption,” says theologian Matthew Henry. It’s the name given to us by a proud Father who will “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).
Be encouraged, behold “what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).