Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Few Wise Words about Words

On Sunday morning we looked at James 3:1-12, which is all about the immense power of the tongue: to heal or harm.

The old rhyme may say: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’  - but we all know from experience that the truth is quite the opposite.

The book of James is sometimes described as the New Testament equivalent of Proverbs, so it should be no surprise that Proverbs also has a lot to say about what we say.

So – here are a few wise words about words...

What we talk about reveals whether we are foolish or wise...

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (15:2)
The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (10:32) we need to guard what we say.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (21:23)
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (13:3)
Words have the power to build up and cheer up...

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment. (10:21)
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (12:25)
...but also to stir up, cough up and get us beat up.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. (11:13)
A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. (18:6-7)
 So sometimes it’s best just to shut up and shut out.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. (17:28)
Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips. (14:7)
A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue. (17:4)
We should treasure those who speak wisely:

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. (20:15)
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an ear-ring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear. (25: 12)
 However only God’s words are flawless...

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (30:5)
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (2:6)