Category Archives: conversation/speech

Wholesome Words Needed

Proverbs 15:4

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” – NIV

Healing Words

There are so many people in this world who are sick and suffering. Their suffering is not physical, necessarily, but emotional and spiritual. The world is full of down and discouraged men and women, but a word of comfort spoken with kindness can be like life-giving medicine.

A wholesome tongue, or a tongue that brings healing, is compared to a life-giving tree. Wholesome, nurturing, healthy words are like food for the soul; food that is found on a tree with roots that run deep, all the way down to the Water of life.

The unattractive need to hear that they are beautiful in God’s eyes. The broken hearted need to hear that there is One who understands and can make all things new. The lonely need to hear that they don’t have to be alone, but that there is One who will always walk beside them, even unto the end of the world. These people need healing words.

Perverse Words

What are “perverse” words? The husband who says to his wife, “You looked better when I married you.” The mother who says, “You’ll never amount to anything.” The friend who says, “Get over it! Just move on with your life.”

Perverse words bring no healing, only destruction. They are like a “breach in the spirit,” says Proverbs. In other words, they are like a crack in a dam which leads to total collapse. They are spoken by fools imitating the wise, and they are nothing but worthless.

“Hard words indeed break no bones, but many a heart has been broken by them.” – Matthew Henry

Words of Life

How can we speak words that resemble a tree of life? Be led by the Spirit of God, and let His words speak through us. A tongue that is guided by the Spirit will bring comfort to the hurting and healing to the wounded.

We must be more like Jesus in your actions. We must lead people to Him as we love as He loved. Speak truth, but encourage; discipline, but build up, and then you will see that “tree of life” bear fruit.

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Don’t Speak Too Soon

Proverbs 14:33 

“Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.”

Keep Quiet

One thing I learned from my father was to keep my mouth shut. No, not in the way that you may think…he didn’t tell me to be quiet…he just told me to watch my number of words.

My dad used to say, “You always appear smarter when you don’t tell all you know.” In other words, as long as your mouth is shut, people will never know how much or how little you actually know. They may just assume you are the wisest in the room. The one who runs off at the mouth is the one who exposes his ignorance.

Exposing One’s Ignorance

This proverb is about being quiet and letting things settle. It’s about knowing you have an answer, but waiting for others to share their mind. It’s about patience.

The man with understanding knows that the longer he listens to an argument, the better the response he can make when the moment is right. The fool jumps into the fray before he knows all the facts, exposing his ignorance too soon.

Watching Words

Did your parents ever tell you to “watch your mouth?” Mine did. They would also tell me to “think before you speak.” I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in the middle of a group of people without saying a word. When it did come time to say something, what I said stood out as something worth hearing, as opposed to more of the same.

Lord, help us to be prudent with our words, and may they always be a reflection of godly wisdom.


Delivering or Deceiving?

Proverbs 14:25

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.”

Oh, So Sweet

There is a terrible crime that has arisen within the Church. It first reared its evil head, oh, about 2000 years ago.

You see there have always been people who have twisted the message of the Cross to serve their own desires, whether that be for money, fame, or truly wicked schemes.

Paul once wrote, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:7b, NIV)

Perhaps you have seen this today? If you are not sure, here are some examples of perverted gospels that can be found within organizations that call themselves churches:

No Sweet-Talk?

While some of these things are based on some truth, none of them are necessarily true.

Just before the reference above, Paul said “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” (Galatians 1:6-7a, NIV)

The truth is that the Gospel of Christ – while having some pretty sweet promises of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness, and everlasting life – is a message that convicts us of our sin and leads to repentance. It tells us that there is only One True God, and we can not get to God on our own, so He came for us. It tells us that the life of a believer will be difficult (John 16:33). It tells us God provides what we need (Matthew 6).

A deceitful witness will tell you what you want to hear or make you believe what he wants you to hear, and it will only end badly for both of you.

A true witness will tell you how much you need a Savior, how much You need a God full of love, mercy, and grace.

Merciful Father, thank You for the truth that is Your Son. Help us to believe His gospel and be a faithful witness to the world for the Gospel. Help us not to be deceived nor to deceive; rather move through us to save those who are deceived!


Walk Away from Stupid

Proverbs 14:7

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Product Labels

Some proverbs, such as this one, are pretty simple and straightforward. But on the other hand, as some product warning labels make abundantly clear, what should be obvious to most needs to be spelled out to others. Here are some examples:

  • “Don’t drive with shade in place” (warning on inside of cardboard sunscreen).
  • “Not for drying pets” (warning for microwave).
  • “Surface may be hot when turned on” (stove instruction manual).
  • “May cause a fire” (warning on box of matches).

If there were no stupid people in the world, the above warnings would be unnecessary. However, I am sure there have been people amazed when their hands were burned on a stove eye or by a match. I am positive that someone tried to sue a company because the microwave killed her wet cat.

Stupid People

In this proverb God has placed a warning label on stupid people. Yes, I said “stupid” people, for that is what the word translated “foolish” (סִיל kesil) actually implies.[1] The Lord wants us to know that it is not good to just stand and listen to what fools have to say, especially when you realize that what they are saying is void of any knowledge.

So, to put this proverb another way, “When you find yourself in the presence of a stupid idiot, don’t bother listening to what he has to say; walk away.”

Now, it may seem ridiculous to make such a statement, but consider why it is important to not listen to what a fool has to say:

  • A fool does not accept instruction, so arguing with him is pointless.
  • A fool would love to frustrate you and make you angry as you try to argue your point.
  • If you listen to a fool long enough you might begin to believe the stupidity he preaches.

A Prayer

Lord, we need wisdom to be discerning. Help us to recognize those who lack words of knowledge. Help us to know when to contend and when to walk away. Help us to know the difference between a fool and someone who is open to the truth.


[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 493.


Who’s Your Daddy?

Proverbs 14:5

“A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.”

I remember as a child being told not to lie. There were two reasons:

  1. “It hurts my feelings,” my mom or dad might say.
  2. “You will be in a lot of trouble!” was the usual reply.

This verse does not need much explanation in terms of what it means: Honest people tell the truth, liars lie.

Most people can tell you that in most instances a truth keeps you out of trouble, but a lie only digs you ever deeper into trouble.

It is also interesting that what story we tell becomes a habit, and it is learned from our father.

Father of Lies

Here is something many churches in the early Twenty-first Century have largely stopped telling those who enter their doors: as a sinner, you are a child of the Devil. It is understandable that lies would become a habit in your life if you take after your father.

You say that you can not believe this?

In John 8:44 (NIV), Jesus said “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

If you find you are prone to lie about anything and everything, I will give you three guesses as to who your spiritual father is. That equates to much trouble.

Father of Truth

Here is something that most churches in the early Twenty-first Century tell people: good people are from God. There is generally truth in this statement.

Some people tell the truth for the simple reasons that it is safer and could very well have health benefits. But being honest is no guarantee of peace.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, NIV).

Jesus knew we would be weak and tempted to lie, so He promised His followers, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26, NIV).

This tells us that the Trinitarian God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are truth, and God helps us to live in truth, to live in Him.

Through Jesus Christ, we are adopted by God. He becomes our Father and teaches us the habits of truth.

Seek out the Lord Jesus Christ to be a child of light and truth.

Dear Lord, help us to live in Your truth. Help us to turn from our lies. Help us believe in the sacrifice on the cross that welcomes us into Your family.


My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


I Was Despicable

Proverbs 13:5

“A righteous [man] hateth lying: but a wicked [man] is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Loathsome Lies and Shame

I have shared before that as a child and teenager I had a habit of stretching the truth, spreading rumors, and flat-out lying. I was rather despicable.

In truth, I told these stories and fabrications to satisfy my own needs.

My need to feel important. (People actually listened to me!)

My need to feel accepted. (People listening felt like people liking me!)

My need to control my life. (That big lie we all believe at some point in our lives.)

Many times, I got caught in my deception. I felt shame and guilt. It led to hating people more and more.

Hating … in a good way

I also have shared before that  because of my deceitful tongue, I learned the importance of being open with people.

I started out hating people, because I felt that no one understood me and no one wanted to be with me.

I learned to hate those things that pushed people farther away. I learned how much God hates sin, and I wanted to hate what He hates.

Several chapters ago, we discussed some things God hates: specifically “lying lips”.

We should hate lies. We should love honesty and openness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves coming to shame and being hated.

Good Father, thank You for Your truth and confronting us in our lies. Thank You for Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forgive those who continue in lies. Help us learn to hate anything that goes against Your truth.


Guard Your Mouth

Proverbs 13:3

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Big Mouth

What can be said about this proverb that is not painfully obvious? Would it help if we read it in another translation?

The Holman (HCSB) puts it, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” The ESV says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” I’d say the message is the same, wouldn’t you?

A big mouth will get you into serious trouble. It may even cost your life.

Loose Lips

There used to be a saying back in the 1940’s: “Loose lips sink ships.” During World War II enemy spies were known to make friends with the families of soldiers and sailors. Knowing the tendency for proud parents, spouses, and children to talk about letters from the front, the enemy would listen and take note.

Many times, without even knowing it, something was said that gave details of secret missions. Lives were lost when people said more than they should.

Sometimes people get into serious trouble because they can’t keep secrets. Some people say things they don’t mean to say. Some people open their big mouths without thinking, then destruction comes.

Post a Guard

If you have a tendency to say things you shouldn’t, you may need to erect some barriers, or even post a security guard in front of your mouth. You can never be too safe when you know you possess something so dangerous.

Look back at the proverb; it says, “he that keepeth..” That means “to put a guard around.” A wise man will have in place a guard – a mental guard – that checks his words before they cross his lips.

Guard:  Good evening, Mr. Word. Going out for a stroll, tonight?

Mr. Word:  Actually, Mr. Security Guard, it’s none of your business where I am going.

Guard:  Oh, most certainly it is! If you don’t provide a good reason for leaving the premises, I must ask you to return.

Mr. Word:  All right, then. I was about to tell my wife that dress looks better on the hanger than her.

Guard:  (Speaking into a radio microphone) I need backup, immediately  Get back sir! Get away from the gate! You are a danger to all of us!

A Real Danger

If you don’t think your words are worth guarding, consider what James said about the tongue…

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT

Now, consider the words of the Apostle Peter…

“For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'” – 1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT

Be careful what you say.

 

 


Shepherd’s Pie

Proverbs 13:2

“A man shall eat good by the fruit of [his] mouth: but the soul of the transgressors [shall eat] violence.”

The Fruit of the Mouth

As part of our church anniversary on we enjoyed lunch together. A team of mostly young women spent several hours preparing the food on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and then they served the meal to those who stayed after the morning service. The same ladies cleared away and washed up. They left church mid-afternoon knowing that they had done a good job, but their mood was lifted collectively by the many words of thanks and encouragement they received from so many people who benefited from their work. Interestingly, our guest speaker when talking about discipleship during the evening service said; “encouragement is important and powerful.” You could say that our church ate well yesterday, before the fruit of our mouths provided huge and well deserved portions of encouragement to those responsible for what we ate.

A Different Meal

The main course for our anniversary meal was shepherd’s pie. When Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd He warned about the voices of strangers, thieves and robbers who come to steal and destroy. The suggestion is that theft and destruction are not limited to physical acts of violence, but may also be initiated by words. There is no doubt that words can change lives, which is why the book of Proverbs contains so many warnings about how we speak, how we choose our words, and what finally comes out of our mouths. The warning in this verse is that bad words bring a different meal to those who speak them.

We ate good food yesterday at church and thankfully we responded well with words of thanks and appreciation. We’re human. We need to be encouraged. We need to lift other people with our words, and we need to be lifted by the words of others. What we receive will surely be governed by what we give.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:7-13)


Unstooping the Back

Proverbs 12:25

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.”

Pain & Sadness

When I was engaged to be married to a woman who was not quite right for me, it dragged us both down. When I knew God did not want me with that woman, I knew I had to end the relationship.

The bad news is that I did not want to. This led to a deep depression. My heart was so heavy that it held me in place, emotionally and physically. I was practically useless for a couple of weeks and literally useless for a few days, those last days of which I sat slouched on a couch not moving except to go to the bathroom.

My heavy heart literally made me stoop and slouch.

I was in mourning for a relationship that had yet to end.

Good Words

It seemed that nothing anyone said could help.

The thing that did it was a dear brother in the Lord saying “God loves you. Show Him you love Him, too.”

It made me realize how to live out Jesus’ words: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

I needed to show God that I loved Him more than anything or anyone else. It took a friend’s words to lift me up and make me move.

Kindness & Love

It is a great kindness to share a good word with someone with a heavy heart full of pain and/or sadness. It should be done with love, and that love should be the love of God.

Someone can offer a kind word, even a good word, to someone, but if it is done at the wrong time or in the wrong way it can have the opposite effect.

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. It is just to sit there, to be there.

God of mercy and kindness, thank You for leading us to and through those times of pain and sadness. Thank You that You also provide us with those people and words that can lift us up to gladness, again. Give us a heart to share that love and kindness to others, and give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to simply be there.