I have a clear memory of some words from my male form teacher forty-eight years ago when I was about eleven years old. My memory isn’t quite so clear whether they were written in my school report or repeated to me after my Mum had been to a school parents evening, but his words, “Dean will always do OK but he will never really excel”, impacted me deeply. I remember the effect of those words. I was at a vulnerable time in my life, in desperate need of male affirmation and up until that time had thought that my teacher, who I liked and respected, also liked me.
Suddenly I was hit by the pain of realising that he didn’t seem to like me after all and he didn’t see anything outstanding in me. For a few years after that pronouncement my performance in my next school seemed to contradict that teacher’s words. I was never lower than third place in any exam. But then as I reached the age of sixteen, deep inner struggles in my life began to have a greater and greater detrimental effect on my ability simply to live and to relate to others, and my academic performance began to slide. By the time I was eighteen I was barely doing OK, and definitely not excelling.
Even as I remember those negative words from my teacher when I was eleven, I also remember when their power was broken many years later, as I was able to forgive him for saying them, and a Christian couple prayed with me breaking the curse his words had brought upon my life. It was a lie that I or any person made in God’s image will never excel. We are each His workmanship, His unique masterpieces, created to know joy and fulfilment as we walk in His destiny and purpose for our lives.
The Bible says that the negative words of others can be like swords that pierce our very hearts. Sometimes careless and hurtful words spoken to us seem to have a delayed effect, as if they carry slow-release poison. Satan waits in the shadows ready to shoot his fiery arrows into the wounds they cause. In our scripture for today we see Jesus rebuking Peter for speaking words that contradicted his very purpose for coming to the earth – to die on the cross for our sins and then to be raised again to life.
Maybe you are struggling with words that others have spoken over you. I encourage you to bring them to Jesus, and ask Him to help you to forgive those who spoke them, and to release you from the pain and harm they have caused.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, more than anyone, You know what it is like to be hurt by the words of others. Please heal me, and set me free from the effects of words that have wounded and crushed me. With Your help I choose to forgive those who spoke them. And please help me to speak words that bless and bring life to those I have dealings with. In Your name, I pray. Amen.
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