Category Archives: conversation/speech

Vanishing Profits

Proverbs 21:6

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. (NIV)

I have worked with many dishonest people.

When I sold cell phones for a time, I worked with someone who was not afraid to stretch the truth to sell a phone.

“Of course you can set your own music as ringtones!” He would say for a device that does not play music.

“This phone will give you a signal everywhere you go!” He would say for an older device using old technology.

“You can return this anytime you want during your contract!” … Just not true after 30 days!

“I did not know you were their salesman!” He would say to the rest of us after putting a sale in his name.

Initially, he had great sales numbers. It looked like he was going to earn a great commission.

Unfortunately, most of his sales came back after customers realized they did not get what they wanted.

This meant his supposedly high commission was, in fact, quite low. Sometimes it was because the higher-ups in the company figured out he was stealing sales, and they would send the commission to those of us who earned them.

Taken Away

In Luke chapter 19, Jesus shares the parable of the minas, in which a nobleman travels and leaves his money in the care of some servants. Some grow his money while he is gone, but one simply hides it. Those who grew the money were given much responsibility, while the lazy one had everything taken away and given to the better servant.

In Matthew chapter seven, He shares that there will be many who speak and act in His name, but Jesus will tell them “I never knew you.” They are the ones who did everything for personal gain.

The reason these are all related is that in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus tells us to store up treasures in Heaven. We cannot store up treasures in Heaven if we lie through word and deed. If we do, all we think we have stored in Heaven, God will say “All the good you think you did is worthless, because it was a counterfeit.”

In this life or the next, we can lose everything through our dishonesty and selfishness.

Gracious God, forgive us of our deceitfulness and selfishness. Give us Your truth, and help us to be honest and grace-filled.


Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.


Well Water (Cool Counsel)

Proverbs 20:5

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Well Water

Once when I was on a mission trip to Romania, a few of us spent a couple of days in a little town called Beuj. I remember not having a canteen or thermos (water bottle) to carry with me as we traversed the little roads around a farm in 90+ temperatures. We could only go so far away from a well.

You see, there was this little well in the town. We knew that we could walk a mile or two away, but only a mile or two. Any more and we would die of thirst before we got back. We were walking around handing out Bibles and hymnals, along with invitations to a community service at which I was going to preach. That well water was so cool and refreshing in that summer heat of 1992.

Cool Counsel

well-w-bucketThere is refreshing counsel deep inside a wise man or woman, and there are many dry and thirsty souls who need it. Sadly, many of those would-be wells of wisdom are covered, blocked, or labeled “unworthy” by the wells themselves.

If God has done a work in your life, let the Holy Spirit use you, your past, and your insight. God never wastes a tear. The pain you have gone through may have produced a deep well a struggling soul may need to make it another mile.


Nothing But the Truth

Proverbs 19:9

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.

trust-me-im-lying

Speak The Truth

This verse is almost identical to Proverbs 19:5. We saw in this post that there is only one way to pass a polygraph test – by telling the truth.

We also saw that it does not pay to lie!

Richard De Haan said,

Lying may seem like a convenient way out, but it’s really a dead-end. The right and sensible choice, therefore, is to speak the truth–and nothing but the truth.

Nothing But The Truth

A 12-year-old boy was a key witness in a lawsuit. One of the lawyers, after intense questioning, asked, “Your father told you what to say, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” answered the boy.

“Now tell us,” pursued the lawyer, “what were his instructions?”

“Well,” replied the boy, “Father told me the lawyers would try to tangle me in my testimony; but if I would just be careful and tell the truth, I could say the same thing every time.

The Warning

Solomon is giving us a warning in this verse. That warning is that if we lie or are a false witness, then we WILL be punished in the end. By lying, or not telling the truth, we are condemning ourselves and we will perish.

As Christians, we must be very careful with our tongues. If we call ourselves a Christian but continue to “bear false witness” or lie, then we are only fooling ourselves. This is what James 1:26 says,

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (ESV)

“Tell the truth and tell it right,
A lie will never do;
The Bible says that God is truth–
He wants the truth from you. –JDB

Lord, help our words to be truthful in every conversation we have. Whether with friend or foe, Lord, I pray that we would be a people of honest lips. 


The Only Way to Pass a Polygraph

Proverbs 19:5 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (NIV)

There are people in prison today who are there because someone has falsely testified against them. Sometimes we read in the press about terrible miscarriages of justice that have taken place because one person gave false witness against another. While giving false witness is a terrible thing, even the smallest of lies usually has consequences. The trouble with lies is that they entrap us. When we are untruthful it is often the case that one lie leads to another. Although we are always hopeful of improving a situation through lying, lies are eventually discovered and those who lie or bear false witness have to face up to the consequences of lying.

I learned the lesson early in life. I had been forbidden to walk home from school, but one day I did. When I arrived home my mother asked if I had traveled home on the school bus. I told her that I had. Then she asked who I had sat next to on the bus. That stumped me momentarily, until I managed to pluck a name out of the air. Then my mother asked me if I had disobeyed her and walked home. I insisted that I had been on the bus. Unfortunately for me my mother had watched the bus stop outside our house ten minutes earlier and she knew I hadn’t been on the bus. I went to bed early that night. It gave me plenty of time to think about what I had done.

God is very clear regarding what He thinks about lies and false witness. The trouble with false witness is that it is bad witness. God calls His people to demonstrate His eternal investment in them through the way that they live their lives. Lying is not an acceptable component of a life surrendered to God. Jesus warned a group of Pharisees about the fruit of the mouth, and His teaching applies equally to us.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NIV)


Come Dine With Me

Proverbs 18:20 

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. (NLT)

A Good Meal

Picture 817_3744_thmb4I visited Pristina in Kosovo for the first time recently. I found the locals exceptionally welcoming and friendly, despite their recent troubles, and the obvious lack of wealth in the country. It was a pleasure to be taken out one evening for a meal in traditional restaurant where there was no menu. Instead of choosing our food, it was chosen for us, and a variety of dishes were brought to the table until none of us could eat any more.

The food was superb and I returned to my hotel extremely satisfied. I don’t know if I will ever go back to Pristina, but I will never forget that meal, or the kind people of Kosovo.

Right Words

Just as a good meal brings satisfaction, so it is with wise words. You know when you have said the right thing to someone, a word of encouragement perhaps, or a word of appreciation. The knowledge that the right thing has been said at the right time brings satisfaction to both the speaker and the listener.

Before I left Kosovo my main local contact thanked me for the way in which I had conducted my review of his organization. Apparently my approach was very different to that of auditors in his company, and he appreciated it. I, in turn, thanked him for his time, for his hospitality, and for the effort he put into preparing for my visit. I also expressed my appreciation of his professional knowledge and expertise. He encouraged me, and I encouraged him. Right words, good words, wise words.

Words are so important. We have the power to bless and build others with our words. Let’s aim to bring satisfaction to others with our words every day. May our words be words that will never be forgotten – for the right reason.


Caught In the Lie

Proverbs 18:7

A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”

As Anthony discussed yesterday, the things we say can lead to a good, old-fashioned punishment, such as soap in the mouth, a spanking, or other bad consequences.

When I was going through my later primary and early secondary education, up until about the start of my Junior year of high school, I had a penchant for stretching the truth or outright lying.

Here are some things I learned:

  • misrepresentations and lies only spread distrust, hatred, and problems.
  • relationships are damaged and/or lost.
  • eventually, you start to believe your own lies.
  • eventually, you must face the consequences in one way or another.

Our World

Our world is full of lies spread by any number of people. Whether it comes in the form of religion, science, or social constructs, we are bombarded daily with lies.

Some of these lies have immediate bad consequences: we may see church splits or new religions, increased taxes or restrictive laws, or fights or wars.

The most dangerous have eternal consequences. As we continue to spread lies, we not only hurt each other, but we may end up apart from God after we die.

That is hell, and it is not ever a good alternative.

Lord of Truth, help us to hear and speak Your words. Make us aware of the lies of this world and in our hearts. Save us from our own snares and destruction by Your grace and for Your glory.


Got Soap?

Proverbs 18:6

“A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.”

Cultural Decency

There are some things we just don’t do very much in our modern, civilized culture. Things that used to be commonplace years ago are considered taboo by today’s standards.

ralphieFor instance, when I was young, children who used filthy language still got their mouths washed out with soap (remember Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story?). Of course it was worse for those living in my parents’ and grandparents’ days than for me. Their parents used lye soap; mine used Ivory.

And long before the days of “time outs,” parents used to be able to “smack the tar” out of a kid with a “smart mouth.” I’m not talking about abuse, only what a kid would get for sticking his tongue out at his mother. Now, instead of a spanking, children who curse their parents in public get balloons and candy and a stress-free quite place to enjoy them. That’s the culturally decent thing to do.

The Warning Stands

On the other hand, even though culture changes with the current tastes of Hollywood and the most popular social scientists, God’s Word remains true. Wisdom still cries out from the rooftops.

The lips of a fool are always leading him into a fight, and his big mouth is always asking to be struck. And as long as there are people who take offense to fools who open their mouths, there will always be someone who knows how to answer a call “for strokes.”

The wise man knows it is far easier to watch one’s words than duck a punch.


Still Waters Run Deep

Proverbs 18:4 

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”

The deepest waters in our world are found in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is reported to be 6.831 miles below sea level. The trench has been explored during several scientific expeditions, but for most of us it is just a name on a map or chart, or an entry in Wikipedia. Despite the efforts of scientists the deepest parts of the ocean generally remain a mystery because of their inaccessibility.

rockpool 4But even a rock pool is a different world. Life is different in the water. There are strange creatures and unusual colors. To reach the best and deepest pools it is necessary to scramble out across the rocks at low tide. This is something I did regularly as a child. Although my friends and I returned often to our favorite rock pools, they were never the same. Each new tide brought changes, trapping different creatures.

And so it is necessary to explore and go deep when searching for words to use in our daily encounters with other human beings, and also with God. We have to be careful with words. We have to be wise users of language. We need to develop a wellspring of wisdom as a resource on which we can draw every time we speak.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)

Six, or Half a Dozen

Proverbs 17:15

“He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.”

My Daddy Used to Say

Down here in the southern United States it is common to hear someone say, “Like my daddy used to say…” What did my dad use to say? He said a lot of wise things. Here are a few examples…

  • daddy“You haven’t really worked until you’ve shed some blood.”
  • “It’s colder than a witch’s upper torso outside.”
  • “I love your soul, but I’m gonna woop your flesh.”
  • “I brought you into this world; I can take you out” (he borrowed that from Bill Cosby…before the scandal).
  • “Right before God does something, the devil will always try to mess it up. So, if something bad is happening, God’s just about to do something.”

But when I read this proverb, the first thing that came to my mind was something else my father used to say all the time: “Six of one, half-a-dozen of another.” In other words, one thing meant about as much as another thing.

My God Says

Well, my Abba Father has said a lot of wise things, too. And when it comes to people who either justify the wicked (say what they are doing is OK) or condemn the just (say what is right is wrong), His disgust with them is about “six of one, half-a-dozen of another.” God despises them both equally.

Isaiah 5:20 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”