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Sticks and stones
Pastor's corner
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The Bible says, in Proverbs 18:21, “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” I can remember being told, as a little boy in the third grade, that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. I was an African-American child living in the Deep South. I had six siblings and a public education that ranked amongst the worst in the country. We drove around in an old station wagon. My family was poor financially, but rich spiritually and, as I grew older, I found out that I was not alone.  
We all come from diverse backgrounds and we’ve overcome obstacles throughout our lives. Rich or poor, young or old, our spiritual relationship with God is the common thread that stands the test of time. He even helps us to endure words that cut to our bone.
Many of us have heard the old phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true. Words do hurt if you allow them. And the damage is done on the inside, destroying the love between a father and a daughter, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives.
Throughout our lives, we’ve seen people in prominent positions choose to speak negatively about people rather than speaking positively. We’ve all heard such phrases as “that’s stupid,” “you’re nobody,” “that doesn’t make any sense,” meaning that who you are and what you have to say means nothing.
However, I want you to understand you are somebody in Christ and what you have to offer can help change someone’s life. We all get picked on. But understand there must be some underlying potential inside of you that causes your adversary to tremble and attempt to hold you back from your divine destiny.
According to Psalm 139:14, you have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are a unique design. The thoughts, ideas, dreams and visions that you have help to distinguish you and define who you are. But if you allow them, words spoken by insensitive people will cause you to hold in the very things that make you different.
Paul said in Acts 26:2 “I think myself happy.” Sometimes you’ve got to “speak life” to yourself by encouraging that part of you who may begin to doubt who you are.
The Greek word for happy also means blessed. So now you can speak blessings upon yourself, even when someone is speaking destruction.
Some memorable discouraging words, spoken to me at a young age, came from my third-grade teacher as I was having difficulty with math. This was someone I should have been able to trust. This was someone who should have been molding me to do better. Little did she know, her words sparked a fire in me to strive harder and never give up — to make something of myself.
We sometimes listen to others’ remarks and allow them to destroy us and forget that we have the power to “speak life” to ourselves. If I hadn’t been raised in a Christian home, I could have been destroyed by those hurtful words spoken to me.
So, let the haters hate. It doesn’t matter if they like you if what you’re doing is pleasing in God’s eyes. Let the haters hate while you do what God has called you to do. Let the haters hate as God continues to elevate you to new heights and deeper depths. You shall live and not die for the power of life and death is on your tongue.

Hayes is the pastor of New Day Outreach Ministry and a member of The United Ministerial Alliance.

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