A hammer: a tool used for building, constructing, putting something together.
A shiv: a make-shift weapon put together to defend, bring pain, or destruction.
Both are items made & used by human hands for a purpose & yet those purposes are in complete opposition. One is for building up, the other for tearing down & destroying.
The same can be said for words. While words are for the purpose of human communication & can be typed or spoken, depending on the motive behind them, they too can be for construction or destruction if not used carefully or properly. The words we speak in the moment, if not thought out or controlled, can be used like a hammer or a shiv.
I’ve definitely experienced this in my own life & marriage, but especially here in the post-parted period when I will openly admit my emotions, thoughts, hormones (bless’em)…& words…have been flying. The first few weeks with Selah at home felt like a really hard, exhausting honeymoon where I was so impressed with how my husbands stepped up & stepped in (& let me be clear, I am STILL impressed!). But after the first few weeks the hormones & bright-shiny-newness began to wear off as we slowly…SLOWLY…began settling into our new normal. For me, during that time, I believe I began dealing with a delayed postpartem mood disorder. Really negative, resentful, anxious thoughts began to flood my mind. Let me tell you, with stuff like that, those 5:30 am pumping sessions were some of the worst times for it. One day, the flood broke through the “dam” of my mouth & angry words flew.
I’ll be honest, it was ugly. It’s the worst I’ve been & some of the worst things I’ve said in a very VERY long time.
While my emotions & concerns were real & valid I absolutely failed in controlling how I communicated them. We talked it out later after we both cooled off, which was good, but God really convicted my heart that day. Postpartem mood disorder or not, there’s no excuse to speak to anyone the way I did that morning. I was just broken-hearted over my behavior & words because I could see how much they impacted my husband. His whole demeanor just deflated. Even after apologies were traded & forgiveness given, the hurt & damage was still done…& that’s why words are so important.
As God spoke into my heart as I replayed it all in my mind, I heard the questions come into my mind, “would you rather be a hammer or a shiv in his life? Do you want to build him up & teach Selah, by example, to build others up or do you want to tear him down? How would you feel in his place?” And then Ephesians 4:29 came to mind…
“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.”Ephesians 4:29, CSB
When we think of the word “foul” in that verse we often think of cuss words, at least I do. But really, in context of that verse & passage, “foul” is anything that is used to tear someone down. As Christians it’s anything that someone could hear (whether directed at them or not) that may bring them down, further hurt their relationship with God, or His reputation reflected through you & me. Maybe those words are angry words, cussing, gossip, passive aggressive or unhelpful criticism. According to that verse our words, instead, should build people up, give grace, & bring them closer to Christ in what AND how we say it (see 1 Peter 3:16). As I sit here looking further into the context surrounding this verse, Ephesians 4:26 & 27 also stand out:
“Be angry & do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, & don’t give the devil an opportunity.”Ephesians 4:26 & 27, CSB
If we aren’t careful with our words, actions, attitudes, & mindsets, we WILL give Satan an opportunity. If I’m not careful I will give him that opportunity & that’s the last thing I want. In those tense moments we, as Christians, become a tool. Technically, a tool is anything used for a purpose. We can be used as a constructive tool used by God to build someone up & bring them closer to Him or we can be used as a tool of destruction by Satan, a weapon used to tear someone down & destroy their hearts, as well as possibly their relationship with God. How many times have you heard complaints from non-Christians about Christians? There are SO many stories out there of people walking away from God because of the words & actions of Christians. I don’t want to be that cause for anyone, especially not my husband or non-Christians.
So I will pose these questions to you:
- Today, will you choose to be the hammer or the shiv?
- Will you be the tool used by Christ to bring others to Him or the weapon used by Satan to destroy them?
This is the new question I’m beginning to put to myself, & not just daily, but in each hard moment that has even the slightest potential of turning me into that weapon or tool.
So…what will you be today? The hammer or the shiv?
If nothing else, be blessed, friends.