Category Archives: conversation/speech

Pricey Tongue, Worthless Heart

Proverbs 10:20

“The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.”
Contrast

When we look at this verse, it is important for us to remember that there is a comparison/contrast being made. An “opposite parallelism” is being used to make a point that one thing is valuable, while another is worthless.

In this case, it is easy to notice that Solomon is contrasting “the tongue of the just” with “the heart of the wicked.” The tongue of the just person (the words that he speaks) is something beautiful and of great value, while the wicked man’s heart is just the opposite. But if we were to look a little deeper, there is more than meets the eye, or first impressions.

The Heart

What is really being contrasted are the hearts of both the wicked and the just. You see, what comes out of a person’s mouth is directly related to what’s in his heart. Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” In the book of James (3:11) we read, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”

Essentially, you can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of his mouth. Jesus said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” – Matthew 15:11 (NLT)

Do you like to tell dirty jokes? Then there must be lust in your heart. Do you always talk hateful? Then there is hatred (and maybe murder – see Matthew 5:21-22) in your heart. Do you ever talk about God? About Jesus? About your love for Him? If not, maybe He’s not in there.

On Display

Do your realize that your heart is on display? No, I don’t mean that your chest cavity is transparent, nor do I mean that everyone can see your bloody, beating heart muscle. That’s sick!

What I do mean to say is that there is no hiding what is in your heart; because your words, the words from your mouth, tell the whole story.

Maybe we should listen to ourselves. Maybe we should ask others to tell us what they hear. Maybe we should be like King David and pray this prayer…

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”– Psalm 19:14

Advertisements

Lying Lips

Proverbs 10:18

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

In this proverb of Solomon (10:1), he joins together two actions related to the tongue which at first blush appear to be opposites, and yet paradoxically, the two actions produce the same outcome!  Let’s look more closely.

A PARADOX

In the first instance, he draws to our attention the one who “hideth hatred with lying lips.”  In other words, his lips are moving, but the words pouring forth from his mouth conceal the hatred and loathing in the heart.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself exchanging Monday-morning pleasantries with a co-worker, chatting harmlessly about the activities of the recent weekend… on the outside you present the image of the nicest guy in the office, but on the inside, you hate the co-worker’s guts!  You are speaking, but your speech is not consistent with your heart.

In the second instance, he speaks of a different sort of person entirely – one whose mouth spews venomous slander.  To return to the example of Monday morning in the office, this is the co-worker who verbally “runs down” everyone and everything, especially attacking the actions and motivations of others, casting others into a negative light.

The polite person with the hateful heart, and the hateful person gushing poisonous slander – they’re entirely different, right?  No, says Solomon, they are surprisingly similar.  Both are morally deficient – fools, in fact.

THE POINT OF THE PROVERB

Listen up, because this is key.  The “jab” of this proverb lies in the first half.  It speaks to those of us who have been trained to “be polite,” when our outer friendliness is a mask of hypocrisy.  Jesus reserves his harshest condemnation for people who pretend to be something on the outside, but have murder within (and yes, according to Jesus, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder – Matthew 5:21-22).  It is so easy to identify – and condemn – the slanderer.

As a pastor, I can say without question that slander is one of the most destructive sins that can strike a congregation.  But at least with the slanderer, you know what you’ve got. How much more deceptive, subtle, and evil is the Pharisaic hypocrisy of hiding hatred with lying lips.

SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH

The proverb calls us to simplicity of speech.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  As the Master said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 6:37).  And no, that’s not a free pass to tell people off!  As Jesus-Followers, we “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15).

Father God, grant us simplicity of speech coming from hearts full of the love of Christ.  Forgive us our sins of the tongue, we ask, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Christ our Lord, in whose Name we pray:  Amen. 


Saving Words

Proverbs 10:14

“Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”

A Penny Saved

I am not sure where the saying “A penny saved is a penny earned” originated. For the longest I was under the impression that Benjamin Franklin coined it (coined it – now that’s funny), but evidently it originated much earlier in the 17th century. That’s OK, though. Whoever “coined” the “penny saved” idiom, if not already dead, is probably too thrifty to sue over copyright infringement.

Nevertheless, the idea of the idiom is that not spending a penny is the same as saving a penny. And when you save a penny, you grow richer in pennies by the day. Too bad pennies aren’t even worth pennies any more. But I digress.

You may be wondering what saving pennies has to do with today’s verse. Well, like pennies, or dollars, or pounds, or whatever, a wise man knows not to use up all his words. He knows there is profit in saving his wisdom for the right time.

A Penny Wasted

Even though pennies are of little value these days, they do have some value. Save enough of them and you could eventually have some money on hand. The foolish man, however, fails to recognize how things add up, so he spends his words quicker than a child’s allowance in a game room.

This sorta reminds me of what my wife tells young children when they won’t stop talking. She says, “Don’t use up all your words.” Wisdom teaches us to use our words carefully, but a fool speaks until he’s proven bankrupt.

A penny saved is a penny earned, and a watched word is wisdom stored.

A Prayer

Lord, some of us love to talk. Help us to save our words instead of spending them all in one place. 


Whose Lips Matter Most?

Proverbs 10:8

The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. 

Open to Instruction

As of this writing, I am about to enter into a new phase of life, a new field of ministry, a place for which I feel a tad bit (maybe more) under-prepared. At the very least, I know that in this new position I will be faced with responsibilities and challenges I’ve yet to encounter; therefore, I have been seeking advice from other pastors who have personal experience.

If there is anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to not think I know everything. If I’m willing to admit I need advice, there’s a good possibility I will be successful in my future endeavors. But advice and counsel are not exactly what is being discussed in the above verse/proverb; we’re talking about “commandments.”

Receiving Commandments

Commandments are not “advice,” but prescriptions for life. They are not given with options; they are our orders – period.

As a matter of fact, they are so important that Solomon (the preacher) tells us in Ecclesiastes that other than fearing God, nothing is more important than keeping his commandments…

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

The difference between being open to advice and receiving commandments can be huge! Being open to the wise instruction of others is not the same as being humble and obedient. It’s not all about us; it’s all about God.

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. – Deuteronomy 13:4

Prating and Falling

When we examine the word “prating” in today’s proverb, what we find is that it means “to open the lips, i.e. to begin to talk”* and carries with it the idea of someone running off at the mouth with as much understanding as the babbling of a brook.

The “wise in heart,” or those whose character is humble enough to know that there’s One who knows all, stands (ironically) in stark contrast to the fool who is so confident in himself that he runs off at the mouth without any regard for the commands of God.

So he falls. Or, rather, is made to fall.

The wise in heart knows he can’t stand in his own strength, but obeys the One who will help him to stand. The prating fool is too busy listening to his own lips that he can’t even hear his Creator, so the fall is not by accident.

LORD, give is a wise heart that listens to and obey Your commands. 


*Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 793.


How to Pray

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. –Proverbs 30:7‭-‬9, KJV

Do you ever think Jesus felt frustrated with His disciples? They made a few silly statements and asked quite a few silly questions, sometimes immediately after He gave a decent explanation of things.

That has little to do with today’s passage, but for people steeped in religious teachings and Bible readings (well, the tanakh, or our Old Testament) they missed quite a bit.

For example, do these verses look familiar?

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say,

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Luke 11:1‭-‬4

Admittedly, it could be hard to miss this little prayer in Proverbs for how important it really is, especially knowing Jesus’ disciples were mostly anything but religious leaders who studied the Scriptures frequently.

This passage, though, does more fully explain what Jesus was telling us to pray:

  • Teach me to be content,
  • Help me control my mouth and thoughts,
  • Keep me from blaspheming you by my actions,
  • Remind me that You are in control, and people watch me when I say I am Yours.

In other words, “God, help me love You and love others.”

It keeps coming back to these two things. Almost like they are great commandments. 😉

Pray for contentment in all things but one: Pray for an abundance of love.


Playing dress up

wolf-2920469_1920There have a few times connected with my job as a school nurse in which I’ve had the pleasure to don a costume in skits for the lower elementary.  Several years in a row I was the Big Bad Wolf for the Great American Smokeout (smoking prevention), and once a friend of mine was the Grape Ape while I hid behind a homemade stage as the puppeteer, (for what I don’t exactly remember…)

And you thought school nurses just sat around putting on bandaids!!

One thing I noticed about being “incognito” is the emotional freedom to act out of character.  Regardless of how hot or uncomfortable the suits were, I had so much fun, which probably makes it more enjoyable for the kids. Continue reading


More Boldness Needed

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. – Proverbs 28:1

One of the most impressive scenes in the New Testament is found in the second chapter of Acts, beginning with verse 14. There we see Peter and the others – but mainly Peter – boldly standing in front of the very crowd that had previously crucified Jesus saying:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” – Acts 2:36 CSB

If that wasn’t boldness, I don’t know what is!

Think about it! At a time when the Church was barely more than 200 strong (yes, just 200), and not long after they were hiding out in fear, the disciples of Jesus were now throwing caution to the wind as they openly declared Jesus to be the risen Lord.

Nowadays we have multiple millions who claim the name of Christ, many of them with no fear of ever getting a slap on the wrist for expressing their faith – if and when they ever decided to show it. Yet, when the ENTIRE WORLD was in a position to obliterate all the followers of “the Way” in one strike, they came out with a message that was anything but “seeker-friendly” or Joel Osteen-ish.

They essentially said, “You did it. You were wrong. He lives. Repent.”

Where are Christians like that, today? What would happen … if only 200 did what they did … a hundred thousand followers of Christ would stand boldly in the public square and tell the truth about sin and salvation?

Powerless, lukewarm, sin-flirting, self-centered kittens may find it easy to endure the needles that inject woke platitudes and creatively-vague Christian symbols under their skin, but they cower in the dark rooms of expediency and tolerance flee from the fiery darts of the Enemy.

The righteous, on the other hand, stand boldly in the power of the Holy Ghost, raise their shields of faith, and unsheathe a Weapon that “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

We need more boldness! More lions…fewer kittens.