Jun28MonJune 28, 2021
Greeting fellow travelers,
Another chapter of Proverbs emphasizing the use of speech – the wisdom herein can’t be ignored. Why does this book talk so much about the wise use of the tongue? (see James 3 for the answer) So much of what we do involves important conversations that can change us or others for the rest of our lives. Think of a job interview, where every word you say is being evaluated by a host of judges – a misspoken word and the future is changed. Think of a heated quarrel, where in a flash of emotional outburst, a deep, possibly irreparable wound is inflicted. Remember the last president of the United States whose words could bring comfort or chaos; usually the latter. There is so much potential for good or harm to be done by what comes out of our mouth. Oh! How we need wisdom, restraint, self-control! Proverbs 25 offers much advice on the wise use of the tongue in a variety of situations. I encourage you to read through it slowly, allowing Holy Spirit to speak to you. His words will be powerful and transforming.
25:6-7a -The first use of the tongue states, “do not exalt yourself…”. Be humble – Avoid verbalizing your pride, especially in the presence of powerful leaders. Don’t be proud by declaring that you belong with great and important people. Jesus taught on this proverb in Luke 14. His application lesson was, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”(Luke 14:11 NIV) Boasting about yourself might just backfire, and then you’ll look like a fool. Again, do not make promises you can’t keep, and boast of giving gifts you can’t give (25:14). How does a humble person sound? What do they say? Think of those the Bible calls “humble”.
25:7b-10 – This section gives us instruction on dealing with neighbors (anyone within our circle of influence). Don’t be hasty in dragging your neighbor to court based on what you see them doing. The idea is that, “what you have seen with your eyes” may not actually be the reality of the situation. False accusations lead to one being shamed. Again, when you are arguing with someone, don’t divulge secrets of others in the heat of a debate. Guard your tongue, and keep the discussion focused on the issue without implicating others. If not, shame and a bad reputation will be your reward (see Prov. 25:18)
25:11-13 – There are some really good uses of the tongue that have great benefits for the hearers. “Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket.” (28:11 NLT) Notice the key word is “timely”. Under the influence of Holy Spirit, it is saying the right thing at the right time – that’s what a good friend, and brother/sister in the Lord does. Even if that word that God says to deliver is a “rebuke” or correction; just make sure the person has ears to hear and receive what you say (v.12). Sometimes we are called upon to go and speak on someone’s behalf, to deliver a message. The one who does so is a blessing to the one who sent him/her (v.13). As Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” The words we bring to others can be healing!
25:15, 20 – The power of persuasion – knowing how to say something, in a calm and patient way, can break down the strongest opposition. “A gentle tongue can break a bone” has the same meaning. A similar thought is found in Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” The key to effective speech is self-control. Be slow to speak and quick to listen, and choose your words wisely. My friend used to say, “You catch more flies with honey…than vinegar”. Notice verse 20 of Proverbs 25, where the idea is, even if you mean well with your words, you can make things worse. Singing a song to a heart that is “heavy” is like vinegar on soda – it causes a huge, unexpected reaction and mess. Take it from an expert vinegar and soda mixer. Discernment is a valuable gift!
Friends, this chapter really speaks to me. Self-confession: I am known as a “straight shooter”, who “says it like it is.” I don’t like “beating around the bush”, but like to get right to the point. I make a lousy counsellor. Some people love me for that; some people find me hard to take. God has changed me a lot, as He is changing all of us. If I have learned anything over the years of walking with Jesus and allowing His word to change me, in the area of speaking it is “think before you open your mouth.” I’m still working on this, but getting better as time goes on. By the time I die, I should have it down to a science. Holy Spirit is faithful to guide me if I let Him lead. The key is getting good at listening to Him and others… self-control over my mouth Lord! More please!
Here is a great list of proverbs to meditate on (Prov. 10:19; 13:3; 15:2; 17:27; 18:13; 18:21; 21:23)