“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”
“Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.” – NLT 1996
The word hypocrite has its origin in the Greek word for stage actor. In Greek drama actors apparently used masks to portray different characters. While we understand that a hypocrite is a two-faced person who pretends to be what he is not, the Hebrew word used in Proverbs is ‘chaneph’ which may be translated as polluted, corrupt, profane or godless. Polluted aptly describes the condition of all humanity at birth. Although we cannot change the way we were born, God provided a way through Jesus Christ in which He can change the way that we live, if we let Him. This includes what comes out of our mouths.
It isn’t difficult to see how a hypocrite might destroy his neighbor with his mouth. It all comes back to words. The NLT Life Application Study Bible note for Proverbs 11:9 states: ‘The mouth can be used as a weapon, or a tool, hurting relationships or building them up.’ We need to choose our words carefully. But we also need to remember who lives in us. In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the disciples and instructs them to receive Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit lives in us then how we say anything hurtful to another human being? If the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is present in us, then how we be anything other than relationship builders, who use words wisely to encourage. Are we speaking words of life to those around us? Do our words point others to the One who speaks words of eternal life?
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (NIV)