Have you ever been stung by a wasp; a tiny little insect that flies joyfully and aimlessly through the air? Wasp stings can be painful and are often more dangerous than bee stings. Wasps don’t lose their stingers like bees and often repeatedly and mercilessly sting their victim. The side effect could be redness, itching and – well pain. But for those sensitive to the venom, the effects can be much worse.
How often do we let down our guard and say things we are sorry for later? Jeremiah 15:8 describes how it feels to be hurt when he craves acceptance. “Why must I continually suffer such painful anguish? Why must I endure the sting of their insults like an incurable wound? Will you let me down when I need you like a brook one goes to for water, but that cannot be relied on?”
Reading that passage reminded me of the allure of the beautiful, playful-looking jellyfish. In pictures, they look like a harmless blob of pudding, but the tentacles of jellyfish contain stinging cells that can cause extensive injury to humans and other animals. There is no escaping the sting and consequences of tangling with a jellyfish. Once the trauma has occurred, healing will take time, even after the irritant is removed.
What happened to Jeremiah? He was in agony in verse 8 of Jeremiah 15. Here’s an excerpt of the rest of the story. Verse 9 begins … “Because of this, the Lord said, “You must repent of such words and thoughts! If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me.” Did you catch that? The Lord was giving it to Jeremiah straight. Without repentance, God couldn’t restore him to the place He really wanted Jeremiah to serve.” Then God continues, “If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless, I will again allow you to be my spokesman. They must become as you have been, Jeremiah. You must not become like them.” Even in Jeremiah’s day it was easier to be pulled down into the pit instead of pulled up to solid ground. But God wants the best for Jeremiah, and says. “For I will be with you to rescue you and deliver you. I will deliver you from the power of the wicked. I will free you from the clutches of violent people.” God promised relief, but Jeremiah had to do his part.
My husband knows I love Clementine oranges, but hesitate to spend the money for them. He bought me a whole box so I could enjoy every bite of the sweet, juicy, seedless sections of fruit. Do you know something even more remarkable about that box of fruit? The trademark and logo on the box. Bee Sweet ‘Stung by sweetness’ – a 1-second marketing campaign. Stung by sweetness – how often does that happen?
Words can sting, be caustic and the long-term effects can be torturous. Or words can sting with sweetness. Sting with sweetness. I think Proverbs 16:24 has something similar to say about that. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the body.” How much better we are to choose our words to encourage and soothe. Proverbs 18:21 “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” The voice we use, the words we choose, and the character we portray are a manifestation of what we harbor inside. Our reputation is built on deeply held values that shape our character and it shows up right where we are, living life out loud. Proverbs16:21 “A wise person gets known for insight; gracious words add to one’s reputation.” Words are often the leading introduction to the next act. I like the way Romans 14:19 describes our next act. “Work for the things that make peace and help each other become stronger Christians.”
Stung! Will our words be like the wasp and the jellyfish? Or will they be stung by sweetness?