Sticks & Stones, Feathers, and Leprosy
Leviticus 13:2: “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest.”
Ten year old Shakira wasn’t ready to leave school yet. Kids surrounded one little boy who crouched down with his hands over his head. “Leave him alone!” Shakira demanded. As the kids drifted off to their busses, Shakira helped the little boy to his feet. “Don’t mind them,” she said. “You’ll return to school a little taller and they will have totally forgotten this.”
People often speak harshly to one another, so kids learn early to grow what is known as a “thick skin”. Words are like arrows. Cruel people know exactly where to aim arrows to cause the most damage. Surely, this child will return to school a little wiser. He won’t allow word arrows to cut him to the core in the future.
“Sticks & Stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”
That’s not true. Words hurt!
God rules the serious offense of speaking harshly about others equal to a skin disease that kills. That’s why we’re created with two gates to contain the weapon of words from shooting out of the mouth. Teeth and lips can clamp shut, preventing the escape of harsh words.
Leprosy is a scary physical disease that disfigures one’s appearance. Leprosy disrupts people’s lives, separating the diseased from others…because leprosy is contagious [kon-TA-juss]. Contagious means easily spread from one person to another. God is serious. Speaking harsh words intended to hurt others is a sin. Once shot out of the mouth, words’ direction is beyond our control. Their effect is often deadly. That’s why the Hebrew term for someone with a disease like leprosy is labelled motzi-shem-ra, which means “spoke badly about another person”.
See the lesson linked below for how Old Testament people with a skin disease were treated and what the New Testament advises to avoid this sin.
Take Home Nugget
Once there was a man who enjoyed insulting someone. Later, he regretted his words. He asked a priest for forgiveness, promising to restore the person’s good name. He was told to cut open a feather pillow and watch the feathers scatter in the wind. After he did that, the priest told him to collect the feathers.
“That’s impossible!” the man admitted.
“Right,” the priest said. “Once words leave the mouth, no one can put them back, or trace how far they spread.”
Holy Father, please help me to think before I speak so that I never hurt another with my words. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Adapted from devotion “Feathers in the Wind” from Holy Land Moments.com. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. April 26, 2017.
Written for http://www.Biblestudyforkids.com