Grace For The Journey
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 today’s blog.
Words Can Be Extremely Helpful
You might be tempted to say, “Well, I won’t talk anymore because it will only cause trouble.” But that’s not what Proverbs is teaching. We can use our speech in helpful ways. You want to use your words for good? You want to help people? You want to mentor people? Here are four ways from the Book of Proverbs that you can speak helpful words:
Use your words to equip others. Proverbs 10:31 tells us, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom.” Proverbs 15:7 says, “The lips of the wise spread knowledge.” One of the ways that you can be helpful to those around you is by speaking wise words. The quality of your words should honor and glorify God and be worthwhile. Make wise speech a habit so that when someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I could use some advice,” you can give them good advice.
I have a pastor friend who is like that. The thing I love about him is that every time he talks, he constantly speaks nuggets of wisdom. They’re not just fortune cookie statements. He speaks the truth and knowledge of God applied to everyday life. That’s why older men are to teach younger men, and older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2). You’ve been equipped with life experiences to help equip others.
In Proverbs 17:10, we are reminded that a good friend is one who will lovingly speak hard truths, even when it hurts. There are times when a brother or sister in Christ will need to hear a word of exhortation. That brother or sister in Christ needs to hear, “You know what? The thing I just saw you do was not becoming of a Christian. What I heard you say probably wasn’t the best thing. You probably could have done it this way. You could have done it that way.”
This isn’t an easy thing to do, but the church desperately needs exhortation. Be careful you don’t become legalistic; don’t point out the specks in brothers’ and sisters’ eyes while you have a log in your own (Matthew 7:1-5). Rather, through grace, mercy and love, tell one another, “What you said––or what you did, or what you are wanting to do––is unbecoming of a believer. Let’s talk about it.”
Solomon is led by the Lord to write about the importance of this ministry:
Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 15:23, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”
Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Any medical doctor will tell you that encouragement helps the human condition. Yet, far too many live your lives like those two old men on the Muppet show who sit up in the balcony. You remember those guys? They would say things like, “I thought that was a terrible show. I thought that was a bad joke.” We do the very same thing. We do it at church. We do it with our kids. We do it with your spouse. And we do it at work. Like those Muppet characters, you are grumbling all the time, critiquing everything and no encouragement comes out of your mouth.
Some dads have said nothing to their children except, “You didn’t do this. You didn’t do that.” Critical words are far easier for a father to say than words of encouragement. I know that to be true in my own life. It’s easy to yell at the kids. However, a godly man lifts up his children. It’s easy to be critical and nag your husband about what he doesn’t do. It’s hard to find the good in what your husband is doing and to encourage him. It’s easy to tell your wife, “You don’t do this; you don’t do that,” but what are you doing to encourage her?
Your life will be different
If you would just be known
As a Barnabas,
As one who encourages.
Barnabas was so encouraging that when he showed up, everybody was glad to see him because he just lifted up everyone. Allow your words to be like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:24). Share words of encouragement instead of just critique upon critique.
The fourth way our words can help others is through evangelism. The Book of Proverbs speaks to this aspect of our ministry through words:
Proverbs 10:21 says, “The lips of the righteous feed man.”
Proverbs 11:30 declares, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”
Why are our words so important? Because, as followers of Jesus Christ, what God uses to save souls is the preaching of the gospel. How do you preach the gospel? Some say, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” Good point, but some take this too far. Someone could be tempted to think, “I don’t have to say anything. I’ll live such a good life that people will just walk up and say, ‘I need Jesus! Just by watching you, I get it. Now I understand that I’m a sinner.’” Why would the Bible say in Psalm 107:2, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” And why would God lead Paul to say in Romans 10:14, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher.” We have to use words. We have to speak the words of the gospel.
Of the 15,000 words you shared yesterday, or the 100,000 words you shared last week . . .
What percentage of them had to do with Jesus?
What percentage of them were about Jesus
As you spoke with other Christians?
What percentage of them had to do
With sharing the gospel with unbelievers?
We’re called to evangelize.
The Bible says in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.” How beautiful is the tongue that proclaims the truth of the Gospel. We need to speak the gospel to others.
It is important for us to remember what the Bible says in James 3:11, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” One of the greatest hindrances to your evangelism can be your words. When the opportunity comes to share the Good News, it’s wasted because people think, “Where is this coming from? I’ve never heard you talk about these things. I’ve never heard you say such things.” We need to right our words so that when the time comes to share the gospel, people are willing to hear and receive it.
Words Will Produce A Harvest
When you speak, you’re spreading seed. With every word, a seed gets planted. What kind of harvest are you producing? Your words will always produce a harvest. Will your harvest be weeds, thorns and thistles, or will it be words that bring life and blessing? The Book of Proverbs gives three metaphors on what your words should produce in the lives of others:
1) Our Words Should Be Like Refreshing Waters
Proverbs 10:11 says, ”The mouth of the righteous is a well of life …” Are people refreshed when you speak to them? When people see you do they think, “I’m glad you are here. I want to hear from you. Every time you talk I’m always so refreshed. I’m so filled up?” Or do they say to themselves, “When will you stop talking? You drone on and on and on; and you always talk about yourself.” Are your words refreshing to the listener?
2) Our Words Should Be Like Outstanding Food
Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Are our words so gracious that are seasoned and sweet to the listener? Are your words like a delicious meal? Do people look forward to hearing what you say and can’t wait to get more?
3) Healing To Broken Bones
In that same passage, Proverbs 16:24 says that good, wise words are healing to the bones. Your words can do one of two things . . .
They can break bones
They can bind them up.
Which will you choose? How are you going to use your words?
Words Are Made Healthy Through The Right Habits
So what do we do? How do you change your words? How do you start living according to the Proverbs? Healthy words come from healthy habits. So you’ve got to have the right habits. The Bible articulates how to get control of our tongues.
1) Admit You Have A Problem
Admitting the problem is the first step of recovery. When God was commissioning him to do great things for the nation of Israel, Isaiah had to stop and say in Isaiah 6:5, “Wait a minute, God. I’m a man of unclean lips and I come from a people of unclean lips.” Can you admit that today? Can you admit your mouth gets you into trouble?
While God uses my mouth for great things as a preacher, my mouth gets me in more trouble than any other part of my body. I get so frustrated because I should know better by now! Until you admit to yourself that you have a problem with your tongue, you’ll never be stable. So, you need to admit it.
God says that when we admit and repent of our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Hallelujah! Your mouth problem doesn’t have to stay that way because, by the blood of Jesus Christ, it can be restored once and for all. I am so grateful that I’m not struggling at the same level as when I first met Christ. Be thankful. God is at work in you.
2) Be Accountable To Two Others
There are two people you need to be accountable to concerning your mouth. Number one: God. Here’s the reason why. There’s only One Who hears everything you say, that’s God. You need to pray, “Lord, You hear everything that I say. You know what I say. You know why I say it. I’m going to take my mouth and tongue and I’m going to place them at Your feet. I’m not in control of them, You are.”
Before you think your problem is in your head, know that it’s in your heart. Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
You’ve got a heart problem.
I’ve got a heart problem.
The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it.” We need to go to God and pray, “God, hold me accountable as a follower of Jesus Christ who’s been given a new heart. Where is this garbage coming from? God, it’s not from You; it’s from the devil. It’s from my flesh, rid me of it. Hold me accountable to that.”
Here’s the reason: Matthew 12:36 shares frightening words for a big talker like all of us: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” How many careless words have you spoken? You could fill volumes with the stupid things I’ve said and God says, “We’re going to talk about that up in glory. You’re going to give an account.” So what do you do? You keep short the accounts with God. You ask for His forgiveness.
The second person you should be accountable to is a faithful friend. When you lie, when you exaggerate, when you curse, allow people to hold you accountable. Keep short lists with God and short lists with others. Don’t let your shame for your sin keep you from seeking accountability.
3) Take An Axe To Your Words
If you’ve got a problem with your words, then take an axe to them. Cut them down. If your mouth gets you into trouble, stop talking so much. The Bible says in James 1:19 that we are to be “slow to speak.”
Some of you find yourselves in trouble
Because your mouth is moving so fast
That your brain can’t catch up.
Get rid of the words and then you won’t have to be worried about what you said.
4) Become An Active Listener
In that same passage, James tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Proverbs supports this advice:
Proverbs 15:31, “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.”
Proverbs 18:13, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”
There’s a reason we need to be quick to listen. It’s because God is speaking to us. Many of us are wondering, “When is God going to talk to me?” And the problem is He can’t get a word in edgewise right now because we’re talking too much.
I’ll close with this. It’s not a Proverb but a poem that I think is a good review:
A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
So why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?
Slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry (James 1:19-22). God has given people a great ability to communicate with words. However, this gift comes with a responsibility and a commitment to follow the wise words of our loving Father Who wants us to speak words of life, not death. Be empowered by the Holy Spirit this week. Control your tongue and use it to bless and encourage others. Use your words to glorify God by sharing the gospel in a way that you haven’t before.
As we apply these truths to our lives let’s surrender to the Lord and allow Him to lead us to strive to encourage, equip, exhort and evangelize instead of speaking words that can harm.
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.”