“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” (KJV).
A Word Fitly Spoken: Timely Advice
I love the Bible. Not just because it is God’s Word, giving us wisdom for living life and teaching us how to get to Heaven – but also because of the majestic, poetic symbolism the Holy Spirit uses to communicate truth with us. In Proverbs 25:11, Solomon (under the inspiration of God’s Spirit) tells us that someone who gives a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. The New Living Translation says: “Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket.” It’s sweet. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome.
Words are powerful! I have experienced many times the truth of Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Every word that we speak can bring life – comfort, encouragement, and hope – or it can bring death – depression, discouragement, or hopelessness. I have had people lie about me, gossip about me, and slander my name, and I know how much it has discouraged and frustrated me. How much it has caused me to want to give up.
But I have also experienced the flip side of the coin – words of encouragement, timely advice, words fitly spoken, that have been sweet, beautiful and awesome. I have people in my life who encourage me – whether it is through spoken words, handwritten cards, or an e-mail note or Facebook message. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” That’s so true!
An Earring of Gold: Valid Criticism:
In Proverbs 25:12, Solomon tells us that a wise reprover upon an obedient ear is like a golden earring. In other words, “Valid criticism is as treasured by the one who heeds it as jewelry made from finest gold.” (NLT). Not only do we need words to encourage us when we are doing well, but there are times when we need good friends who will speak the truth in love and let us know when we’re messing up in our lives. Their goal isn’t to hurt or destroy us, but to help keep us on the straight and narrow. Such people are more valuable than precious jewels.
It would be nice if every time a wise person corrected their friend that they would be met with an obedient ear, willing to respond to that correction, but that is not always the case. Sometimes even when we speak the truth in love, people will reject that truth because they don’t want to change. That’s unfortunate!
Lord, give us people in our lives who will speak encouraging words of life to build us up and encourage us when we need it. But also give us people in our lives who will be wise reprovers, who will challenge us when we get into sin or error, and help us to have an obedient ear that is open to correction. Amen!