Grace For The Journey
A few weeks ago, we began our current study on the Book of Proverbs, selecting various Proverbs that speak on wisdom. The tendency of human beings in today’s society is to look to technology for the answers that perplex us most. As followers of Jesus Christ, perfect wisdom comes from God and His Word. Today, we are going to address wisdom with our words so that we might bring glory and honor to God, and also bring ourselves and others great blessing.
The Book of Proverbs wasn’t written to remind us of how dumb we are. Proverbs was written by an earthly father – Solomon – to his son. Solomon wanted to show his son, whom he loved and cared about, how to live life well. Though Solomon was the earthly author, he was guided by a heavenly Author.
God is not writing these things to say . . .
“Hey dummy, you’ve really blown it.
You’ve really messed up.”
He wants to show us
How to live life well.
God has wisdom to share with us about our words. This wisdom allows us to speak in a way that not only glorifies God, but also blesses us and those around us. We’re going to be looking at a number of verses, but I want to start by looking at Proverbs 18:21 which says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Let that sink in just for a moment. Death and life are in the power of your words. Did you know that? Did you know that every word you speak has the potential to bring life or death to others? Maybe this week you’ve spoken words of life by encouraging another person, by blessing them, and by giving them an extra boost of support. Or perhaps some of you have spoken words of death by telling people how dumb they are, or by telling people how worthless they are. Maybe you’ve spoken words of bigotry or words full of judgment with a critical spirit. Our words have the power of death and life. If you’re like me, you could use a dose of God’s wisdom concerning the words you use.
We talk a lot,
And the Bible
Has much to say
About our words.
Sometimes a person’s greatest God-given strength can be their worst weakness. Our desire ought to be that God would our mouths for His Kingdom work and glory. That everything we say would not only glorify God but would lift others up; that they would encourage others; that they may build up knowing that what we say is good and beneficial.
Let’s look at several truths that God wants us to know from the Book of Proverbs:
- Words Play a Huge Part in Our Lives.
I want to stress the word “huge” as much as possible because I cannot overemphasize the power that words play in our lives. This has occurred throughout human history. As we consider major events from the beginning of humanity up until today, we see that words played a huge role in shaping those events.
- A man once wrote on a piece of paper, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.” Those words belong to Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.
- In a legislating house in Virginia, Patrick Arnold stood up and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
- Another Virginian wrote on a piece of paper and handed it to a group of his friends and compatriots. It said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Thomas Jefferson wrote them and they were incorporated into America’s founding documents..
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his inaugural address, said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
- John F. Kennedy, once declared, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
- Astronaut Neil Armstrong made this statement when he stepped on the moon, “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr, declared, “I have a dream.”
- Ronald Reagan said, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Words are powerful.
They shape human history.
Words not only shape human history . . .
They also change our lives.
Some of the most memorable events in our lives are encapsulated by words.
- When applying to college, you desperately look forward to the words, “You’re accepted.”
- There’s the question every girlfriend wants to hear: “Will you marry me?” If you are married, do you remember how those words felt?
- How about the words “I do”?
- People looking for a job hope to hear, “You’re hired!”
- How about when the doctor tells the couple, “You are pregnant?” Or, “It’s a boy!” Or, “It’s a girl!”
We remember those words because they impact the very essence of who we are. Sometimes, words cause us to feel profound sorrow. Some of us have heard words like, “It’s cancer.” Or, “It’s terminal.” I remember when a friend told me, “Your daughter Ashley has died.”
Words can bring us up to the mountaintops,
Or they can bring us down to the pits.
Your words have great power and that power comes from God Himself. In the beginning, God created this world through the power of His Word. When Christ came, the Bible tells us in John 1:1 that He became the logos – the Word incarnate. He was the Word, the living Word of God. In the Bible you have the written Word of God that leads and guides to holiness and truth. One day, the Name of Jesus will be spoken by God Himself and at that Name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Philippians 2:10-11). Words are powerful. They were present in the beginning; they will be present in the end.
Will you use your words
For God’s glory or
For your own gain?
God has given us
The power of words,
But He’s not the only one
Who wants to use our words.
The devil knows the
Power of words as well.
In World War II, plastered over every military base were posters that said, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” These simple slogans told people, “Don’t tell people where our troops are doing. Don’t tell them when you’re shipping out from or where you’re going. The enemy has spies all over the place and they could use the information that you casually share with others. You could die, or it could mean one of your fellow soldiers dies. So be careful! Loose lips sink ships.” The U.S. government wanted to be careful because they knew that information in the wrong hands could lead to disaster. We can either help the devil by propagating all kinds of disasters through words of envy or hatred, or we can glorify God by speaking words of encouragement and truth.
There are a three initial truths we need to understand about words.
- Words are plentiful. We talk a lot. Did you know the average person says about 15,000 words a day? Men say about 13,000 words a day, and women, on average, say 17-18,000 words a day. To put that into perspective, if you were to transcribe the words that you speak on a daily basis, you could fill 60 pages. In a year the average human being could fill sixty-six 800-page books. For that reason . . .
The Book of Proverbs devotes
More than 150 verses
In 31 chapters
To the use of
Words and the tongue.
It’s something that we need to recognize. Because of this, we need to be receptive to God’s wisdom regarding our words.
- Words are able to penetrate
If you think that your words have no consequences, think about the last time someone told you, “I love you,” or, “I’m proud of you,” or, “You did a good job.” That doesn’t just hit your ears and fall away. No, those words go deep into the depths of who you are. Has someone’s encouragement ever made you feel like you could take on the world? Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe you’ve heard, “You’re worthless. You’re terrible. What’s wrong with you? You’re good for nothing.” Those words don’t just bounce off of you; they cut deep.
The words we say
Impact other people
In profound ways.
Look at these two passages of Scripture where words penetrate the soul in good ways:
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” You can change a person’s morning by speaking encouraging words. You can lift them up from the ashes. But you can also tear down with a hurtful word.
Proverbs 12:18 tells us, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword …” Some of us have used words this week, whether knowingly or unknowingly, that have wounded deeply the individual to whom we spoke. We’ve thrust a steely knife into them because we haven’t considered the penetrating quality of our words.
- Words go places that you can’t
Have you ever noticed that your words have a way of taking on wings and flying away? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said something and wished that I had a net to catch what just came out of my mouth. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:27, “A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching (or an uncontrolled) fire.” The Bible tells us in James 3:5-6 that the tongue is like a spark that starts the whole forest on fire. When we say something that we think we have control over, we deceive ourselves. Like an uncontrolled burn, those words can devastate everyone around us.
After being found guilty one day, a town gossip was given an object lesson by her pastor. He wanted to teach her about the speed at which words take flight. He told the town gossip, “I want you to take this bag of feathers and place a feather at each doorstep of the homes in the community. After an hour, I want you to go out and gather all of the feathers back.” She came back with only a handful of feathers and told her pastor, “All the other ones have blown away.” Like feathers, our words get caught up by the wind, going places we never thought they were going to go. So be careful because your words can take flight.
- Words Can be Incredibly Harmful
Before you think, “I better not say anything,” recognize that you have a choice.
You can use words
For good or for bad.
It’s up to you.
The Book of Proverbs talks about both usages. There are words that are harmful and words that are helpful.
First, let’s look at what the Bible says regarding words that are harmful.
What does the book of Proverbs say about words that hurt? The Bible clearly tells believers to avoid from any kind of unwholesome words that will tear down the lives of those around them. Proverbs reminds believers of the harmful ways we can use words against people:
Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” The gossip is like a caterer. He doesn’t set out the full meal, he sets out appetizers. The gossip walks around with a tray of hors d’oeuvres saying, “Just have a little.” Gossip whets the appetite for more. It always says, “Tell me more! Tell me more!”
Once a man was gossiping with his friends about the newest scandal, and one of the friends exclaimed with excitement, “Tell me more! Tell me more!” To which the gossip said, “I’ve already told you more than I know!”
When we gossip,
We are telling
More than we
And most of it
Is not even true.
We need to be careful because gossip is a major issue within the church. We cluster around our friends whispering, “Did you hear this? Did you hear that? Did you hear about so-and-so?” We set out half-truths, or maybe even truths that someone doesn’t need to hear. It only causes a hunger for more.
The gossiper controls the story.
If you are the gossip,
The person who hears
Your sweet and scandalous gossip
Believes what you say.
They don’t know anything else;
There’s no fact checking.
No one says, “Is that really true?” There are a couple of things you need to say in order to stop gossip:
- “Are you sure about that?”
- “Should you be talking about that?”
As soon as gossip is heard, human nature says, “Tell me more!” because you want the power of knowing what’s going on. Remember that gossip is a sin. The Book of Proverbs says that gossip starts out really good, but it can bring great problems to those who share it as well as to those who hear it.
Proverbs 6:16-19 speaks about the seven detestable sins and lying is one of them. A lying tongue is detestable to God. Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Have you used your words this week to deceive people? Have you used your words this week to disguise your real feelings? When someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you know you’re doing lousy, do you put on a smile and say, “I’m doing great?” If so, you just lied! You just deceived! You disguised your feelings and you’ve spoken a lie. Have you pointed the finger at someone else in order to escape punishment? You’re lying. Understand, lying is the language of the devil and unbecoming for a follower of Christ. But we do it all the time, don’t we?
Lying is the language of the devil (John 8:44). It’s not good for us to do, so stop doing it. No matter how easy it is, no matter how much fun you get out of it, no matter what it is, stop doing it. Your lies will find you out.
A third type of harmful speech is seducing words, or flattery. Flattery is lying in a garden of beautiful flowers. Some of us are really good at buttering people up and saying things that aren’t quite true. Why do we use flattering words? We think that if we flatter someone, that person will do good things for us in return. It’s selfish.
The Bible says in Proverbs 29, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” When we flatter people, we need to be careful. The most common example in the Book of Proverbs of a person who uses flattery is the prostitute. Speaking to a young man, Solomon says in Proverbs 5;3, “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.”
Usually the people who harm us the most are the people who have praised us the most. Be careful when a person says, “You’re the greatest. You’re the most awesome person. You’re the best.” Be careful not to define your worth by the flattery of others.
Fuming words and words of anger are also harmful. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:22, “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.” How often have you gotten into trouble because you’ve allowed your anger to make its way into your mouth? You might not even mean what you say, but those words cause great harm. How many times have you allowed your anger to get the best of you? As a result . . .
Relationships are ruined,
Opportunities are lost
And your testimony is soiled
Because you could not
Bridle your tongue.
It’s not a sin to be angry, but Scripture tells us to not let our anger turn to sin: “Be angry and do not sin…” (Ephesians 4:26). Usually the first place you sin is with your words.
Talking too much
A final way our words can be harmful to others is by talking too much. The Bible says in Proverbs 10:19, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking …” It means, “Be careful. Don’t talk so much because when you do, the probability of sinning increases exponentially.” The more you talk, the more opportunity you make for sin. Some of us need to start talking less. We don’t need to be the one who always has the answer. We need to allow the Spirit of God to fill our speech with words that benefit, bless, and bring honor to God.
The Bible clearly instructs us that we are not to use our words to hurt people . . . We are to use our words to honor God and help others. We will look at what the Bible says about this in tomorrow’s blog. We will look at what the Bible says about this in tomorrow’s blog.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”