Throwing Stones

August 11, 2022
Volume 26, Number 26

About an hour from where I live is an annual event that draws thousands. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina is a celebration of Scottish heritage, and something like an Olympic competition is part of the festivities. For example, men in traditional kilts compete in “turning the caber”; they pick up a 16-20 foot pole and toss it as far as they can. As you might expect, these competitors are muscular fellows.

A similar event was held in The Hague, Netherlands this past week at Geldrop Castle. During one of their events, the “hammer throw”, a spectator was struck in the head and died. This “hammer” is actually a 16-pound metal ball attached to a stick or a steel wire. Competitors spin three or four times to gain momentum before letting go of the hammer. The world record for the hammer throw is just over 284 feet.

The death was an accident, and we can only imagine how grieved the thrower must be. Still, there is a risk in attending events where projectiles are hurled in such a spinning motion.

I’d be surprised if you have ever thrown a Scottish hammer; I haven’t. But haven’t we thrown “stones” that did damage to bystanders? If you’re wondering what I mean, just remember that childhood chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That chant isn’t true, of course. Words have power to break – and sometimes destroy – those who hear them.

Proverbs 15:1 is a familiar verse: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If you have read the book of Proverbs you know that much is said about the proper use of the tongue. But how difficult it is to practice this wisdom! “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

One of the 10 commandments says simply, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). For most of us that’s an easy command to observe. But Jesus took the command further in Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Notice that in two of those three situations Jesus mentioned words are used. Words carelessly thrown about can damage both the hearer as well as the speaker.

Jesus had more to say about words that are not carefully chosen: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The hammer thrower in the Netherlands may not be charged, but word throwers will not be so fortunate.

The best way to avoid careless and destructive words is to practice the opposite: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Words can heal, just as they can inflict wounds. Pray for God’s help to choose the right words.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2022, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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