Do you remember the childhood saying of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” I remember chanting this when I was young, in order to mask the hurt I felt inside when the other kids picked on me for being different. No matter how much I said it, the words still hurt because words have power to build up or to tear down. Ephesians 4:29 says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (NLT). In working with people who struggle with addiction, from my experience trauma is one of the leading causes of addiction. Physical, mental, verbal and sexual abuses are all contributing factors that can lead people down the road of addiction in search of relief, self-punishment or misguided vengeance to name a few motivations.
For people who struggle with sexual addiction, rejection is a major catalyst that perpetuates the abnormal behavior. Objectifying people for our own sexual gratification is abnormal. God didn’t create us to use and abuse one another, but to love one another (1 John 3:11). Regardless of the many pro-porn arguments, pornography is demeaning, period. In helping these people work towards freedom the Lord has revealed to me that in many if not all instances, verbal traumas are some of the first attachment points that certain strongholds (rejection, self-pity, self-hatred, shame) began to take root which helped catalyze the road towards sexual addiction. Add on to this, other traumas like physical, mental or sexual abuse and the range of addictions increases (alcohol, drugs, food, anger, etc.).
The book of James talks about the tongue being untamable by human means (James 3:2,8) and how blessings and curses come out of the same mouth (James 3:9). I don’t know about you, but I experience the truth of these verses everyday, be it in my own struggle to control what I say or don’t say or when I’m on the receiving end of some not so self-controlled words from others. But, when I do feel offended, unjustly criticized or even judged, I am grateful for Holy Spirit who restrains me from reacting and reminds me of God’s love and grace. When I first came to faith and read through the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23a), I was always perplexed by self-control. But, the longer I walk with Jesus the more grateful I’ve become of this particular aspect of the Spirit’s fruit.
God’s heart towards His creation is one of love, redemption and restoration. The Father’s desire is to see us saved, redeemed and made whole. This was the precise reason Jesus came down out of Heaven to die on a cross for sin. It is in Jesus that people are set free from the bondage of sin, are delivered from being demonized, healed of sickness and disease and where our brokenness is restored. This is where the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit in gifting people prophetically has great influence and power in joining with God in His mission of redemption and restoration. All believers have the privilege to speak truth and life into others. But, this must be done in love (Ephesians 4:15). The prophetic gift must be exercised in love, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV).
Recently, I’ve been reading a book by Kris Vallotton, Developing a Supernatural Lifestyle, and came across this statement: “Never underestimate the redemptive power of God’s supernatural ministry. So many people are starving to know who they really are. You have the ability to alter the history of people who are lost in darkness and broken beyond repair.” This is a true statement. But, we must always remember that our own tongue fights against us and that unless we become more and more dependent on Holy Spirit in taming our tongue we will do more prophetic harm than good. Holy Spirit gifting does not equal maturity; it is through the fruit of the Holy Spirit that brings about maturity. Furthermore, though we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy we must remember that we must pursue love first (1 Corinthians 14:1).
So this is my prayer: that the Lord would continue to cultivate in us a greater capacity to love, that He would impress upon each of us the great need to be fully defined by the Father’s love and the need to always pursue love first and foremost. Help us Lord to allow ourselves to be fully loved by the Father and from out of that place of belovedness love others. For, as Your Word says “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In Your Name Jesus we pray, Amen.