One pleasure of living rural is watching the acrobatic flight of barn swallows. Those small birds have tremendous agility in the air, which enables them to go after flying insects. In the summer, the swallows often dart around me, going after the insects stirred up as I mow the yard. In all that time, none have ever landed on me or ran into me. This brings us to today’s wisdom from the book of Proverbs. “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.” (Proverbs 26:2, NLT)
It may seem like the stuff of ages past, but we can still be affected by the words of others. These could be labels spoken to us as schoolchildren or by our parents. It could be superstitious, along the lines of a hex or spell spoken by someone. Those words could be the accusation laced “isms” that are so easily aimed at an individual or a group. While we may not be able to change how others talk, we can change how it affects us.
How do we break what is essentially the opposite of a blessing? When our kids were growing up, we strove to avoid labels such as “you’re a brat.” And we never said anything along the lines of “you’ll never amount to anything,” quite the opposite, in fact. But some parents, teachers, and adults have spoken harmful labels to children. Perhaps to you. How do we break the power of that curse? Through forgiveness.
This happened to me as well. An adult gave me an unflattering hurtful nickname. I’m obscuring the facts for their sake. The nickname hurt, and I felt powerless to do anything about it. A few years later, it came to my attention that I never forgave them for their offense. My heart was lifted the day that I forgave them. I can’t say that I’m perfect in this; after all, nobody’s perfect.
Sometimes we break the power of a curse by raising the shield of faith. In reality, it matters much more what God thinks about us than what someone else does. This applies both to the good and bad attitudes someone may harbor towards us. When someone says, “you’re worthless” or “you’ll never amount to anything,” God says, “I gave my Son for you,” and “you are my child.” They can say whatever they want, but it never lands because God’s blessing means infinitely more than their curse. It matters even less if we forgive them.
You may not feel cursed, but for a moment, let me address those who do feel that way. The Bible encourages believers to have “sound judgment and sober spirits” (1 Peter 4:7). Say someone’s business is failing. Is it because of someone’s curse or because of poor business practices, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time? What does sound judgment say? More often than not, it is either weak practices or unfavorable market conditions. Sure, there are things that are out of our control. And people can unfairly attack our reputation.
I tried to run a business in my younger days. It failed, and I learned that I’m not much of a businessman. That doesn’t make me cursed, far from it. During those few years, I did learn some new skills which I’ve employed in all the jobs that followed. Skills like troubleshooting, customer service, and using computers.
Maybe it seems that everything fails and is out of our control. It sure feels like a curse when nothing goes right. But I wonder if the curse isn’t about what we’ve said to ourselves more than what others may have said about us. This too requires sound judgment and a sober spirit. It is important to recognize and repent of those words we’ve planted in our hearts—especially those wrongly spoken words of others which we agreed with and internalized. We break the curse, refuse it a place to land, by asking God for forgiveness (1 john 1:9), by forgiving others, and by forgiving ourselves.
It can’t promise you that forgiveness will magically turn your circumstances around. But it will change our attitude and our trajectory. After all, “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.”