Reading Proverbs 18:1-24
Again Solomon reminds us of the power of our words: “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied” (20). I don’t recommend taking verse 6, “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating”, too literally, however tempting, but it does show us how dangerous our words are! He goes on. ” A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”(7) Unguarded words can cause deep pain (8). Just think of the Prime Minister last week and his unguarded words to the Queen about ‘fantastically corrupt’ countries!
We often make judgements before we know the full story(17). We find it easy to make our own opinions count and find it easy to dismiss those of others. Think about how blinkered we might be.
If we hear a drunk talking in the street, and they happen to be spouting the same things we believe, we say “Wow, look! Even that drunk knows what’s right and talks sense” … On the other hand, we may hear someone who has the most impressive qualifications, who may even be an expert on what they are talking about. Yet, if we disagree with them, (because we are so sure of ourselves) we may say “What an idiot!”
We often don’t care about wisdom, we care about us! Solomon suggests that wisdom is often about listening carefully (13) before we speak and form our opinions. It is wise to listen carefully to both sides of an argument with equal care (15). Perhaps the words we read yesterday in Proverbs 17 are our best hope, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 17:28)
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:1-8 NIV 1984)
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10 NIV 1984)
Father, I am one of unclean lips living in a world of unclean lips. I am so sorry. Please cleanse me of my foolish talk. Forgive me that at times I find it easy to gossip, that I often use my words to tear down, criticise and discourage others. Please, by the power of your Spirit help me to keep my tongue, help me to guard it. Help me to speak works of love, affirmation and encouragement. Please Lord, let the good news of Jesus be on my lips today. In Jesus name. Amen.
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