Wound or Incision?

Proverbs 12:18

“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Cut Open

I have never been pierced with a sword but I have been cut open during surgery. While under anesthetic the surgeons made a twelve-inch incision from my chest bone downwards so that they could gain access to my abdomen to remove a large section of diseased colon. Thirty-five metal staples were used to close the wound. When I came round after the surgery the pain was indescribable.

Of the several tubes I found attached to my body, one was set up to allow me to self administer measured doses of morphine. This dulled but did not remove the pain. It was ten days before the staples were removed and I was discharged from hospital. Although the pain had reduced it took a while for it to fade completely. For three months the discomfort meant that I slept sitting up, while the scar remained sensitive for years.

Pain or Healing?

This proverb is a warning of the pain that words can cause. “Reckless words piece like a sword” says the NIV, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The truth is that words can hurt just like the cutting of a sword, or a surgeon’s scalpel. Pain of this nature does not go immediately; it lingers. It may fade, and time may indeed be a healer, but words can cause lasting damage. It may be years before the scars left by hurtful words cease to be sensitive.

Where words of healing are required then the challenge is to select such words with the utmost of care, and preferably under the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It is often the case that we mean to bring healing, but the words that we use merely intensify the pain. Be careful. Sometimes it is wiser not to speak at all.

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Good Heathen?

Proverbs 12:17

“[He that] speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.”

Pretty Clear

This is one of those passages that does not need much explanation. Yet, to sum it up even more: Truth is good; lies are bad.

I think there is definitely more to this, however.

Bad Christian!

First is the negative message: Good people occasionally lie.

I will now rewrite the second half of the verse: “a false witness shows deceit.”

This is why even “little, white lies” fall under “not good” or even “bad” with some people. It is still bearing false witness. It is still deceitful.

It does not necessarily mean a person is full of deceit. In fact, “little, white lies” are often told to spare someone pain, to not hurt the feelings of someone else. Sadly, something is still covered up, hidden, which should be made known.

Good heathen!

As much as some Christians can not or struggle to admit, there is some good in all people. I am fairly certain that carries over from Creation, seeing as “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). All of humanity carries at least a little bit of God in them.

Therefore, it is possible for non-God-fearers to show forth righteousness. They may not be righteous, but they can still tell the truth (and do other good deeds).

Go and do likewise

Since we now know that speaking truth is showing righteousness, let us get out and spread some righteousness!

People are only made righteous through the work of God, and He desires for all people to cry out to Him.

But like it says in Matthew 5:

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

And as Romans 10 says:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Father God, rid us of deceit and lies. Let us only speak what is true. May You embolden us ever more to speak the truth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that others may hear and glorify Your Name!


“Wind Your Neck In”

Proverbs 12:16

“A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.”

The Wisdom of Fools

For a book of wisdom, Proverbs, and indeed the Bible, contains an awful lot of “fool observation.” Which is good, because I (and I am vainly assuming you) fall into the “fool” category more often than not. Today we look at the fool and vanity.

Defense Mechanisms

The Bible urges us not to think too highly of ourselves, but this is something most of us fall prey to. I’ll be honest I don’t just want you to like this post – I want you to love it. Because if you do I can gain some sense of validation from that, I will feel good. But just as we seek validation from the things we produce we also become extremely defensive when under attack. If something we have done or produced is received in the wrong way, a way we never intended then we feel that urge to defend ourselves, to point out the folly of the other person, and achieve our validation once again.

A Multi-Headed Beast

We see this played out in a variety of ways, be it the straight up insult, the person who disagrees with our beliefs, the more subtle manipulator, what ever it is we cry out for God for justice, and God’s advice – wind your neck in. How much time do we waste over arguments that can never be won? Defending our ultimately indefensible self? Oh we freely admit that we are up there will Paul as a “chief of sinners” but when it comes down to it our judgments prove this a fallacy.

The Wisdom of Job

Job had a lot to be annoyed about…unfairly treated by God, hung out to dry by his “friends”… but when God comes to question Job we find an echo of this proverb in his reply:

Job 40:4-5 – ‘“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer twice, but I will say no more.”

Next time you have been undermined, insulted, misunderstood, next time you have a burning desire to correct misunderstanding of your words, to defend you motives, to get annoyed at how wronged you have been – why not try being prudent for a change? It can’t hurt that much – can it?


Lego Lesson

Proverbs 12:15

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Let’s be honest, this is not a hard verse to understand, but extremely hard to follow. If a person thinks that they know it all, and that they have all the right answers, and that their way is better than everyone else’s, then they are pretty much a fool. Plain and simple! But before you get angry at me for saying this, don’t forget that these words are coming from the wisest man who ever walked on the earth.

The Fool

Many times as a teenager, my father would give me advice on how to handle situations that were coming up in my life. And as a very stupid kid, most of the time I did not listen to his wise counsel. Why? Because I thought that I knew how to handle the situation more than he did. I thought my way was right. I was too proud and thought that I knew what was best.

My father had every right to hand me the Bible and ask me to read about myself in Proverbs 12:15. I was a fool for not listening to his advice that he was willing to give to me to help me in tough times.

Oh, how I wish I had listen to my father!

A Lesson from Legos

Back in January of 2012 we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday. We had been asking her what she wanted for her birthday and she kept telling us Legos (a girl after my own heart!). A few months before, Lego came out with a new line of products just for girls called Lego Friends.

Well, her birthday came and we purchased her a part of the Lego Friends collection. We celebrated her birthday and the first thing she wanted to do was to open her new Legos and put them together.

I explained to her that it was very important that we read the instructions and follow each and every step. She promptly told me that she did not need my help and that she knew how to put everything together. I explained it to her again, but I got the same response.

I walked across the room from where she was gathering all of her pieces to put together and I sat there, watching her try to figure out where to start and what to do next. She got her instructions out and began to follow them step by step, until…

I had moved on to other things because she seemed to have everything under control. That was until I heard her scream for help. When I came into the room, she was trying to force a Lego into a section where it just did not want to go. She kept telling me, “This piece fits here, I just know it does”.

As I began to search out the problem, I realized that she had skipped several pages in the instruction manual and had just started to put pieces where she thought they needed to go. After a while, it caught up with her and caused problems.

Why did she have problems? Because she did not follow the instructions (advice or counsel) that were given to her. She thought her way was better!

Some of the best advice that I, or anyone else can give you is this, get advice! Get people in your life that are godly people and seek their counsel. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Don’t be a fool, seek wise counsel!


I’m a Word Farmer

Proverbs 12:14

“A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.”

Word Farming

It should come as no shock to anyone that I use words on a daily basis. I talk, write, sing, preach, teach, and even counsel second-graders on my school bus regarding their poor dating choices (but that’s a different story).

I am a word farmer, and my mouth could be compared to one of those big machine-thingys (non-farmer terminology) that spreads seed across a field. From morning till evening I am like a John Deere pulling a seed drill (farmer terminology), planting row after row of something that should grow.

The hope is that whatever I am planting will produce a good harvest. And if I am planting good seed, then I will be satisfied with the “good fruit.”

Don’t Work, Don’t Eat

But it is important that we pay attention to the negative side of this, not just  the “fruitful” positive. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 12:14 reads, “Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.

What happens when we don’t plant? What happens when we don’t work? What happens when the farmer parks his tractor, sleeps late, and watches television all day? Plants don’t grow, no one is satisfied, and grown men end up watching the Lifetime Channel.

Rewards are the result of effort; harvests are the result of planting. To be satisfied with good from the fruit of your mouth, you’ve got to plant seed. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Just be careful of the seed you plant, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” – Isaiah 3:10-11 ESV


Play It Smart, Not Safe

Proverbs 12:13

“The wicked is snared by the transgression of [his] lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.”

By What We Say

There is a funny thing about evidence. It points to the truth.

Guilty

Watching some of the detective shows on television can be a trip, because there is always somebody accused of doing something. Sometimes the person being accused is innocent while the accuser is the guilty one. Sometimes the accused really is guilty.

Most of the time each party, guilty and innocent, is revealed by the simplest of things: what they have said.

Whether they are the accused, accuser, or someone on the sidelines of the investigation, the guilty party often gets caught, because they say the one thing that reveals their guilt.

Free

There are a few reasons why the Christian is called to honesty:

  • God is Truth (John 15:26). If we are in God, then God is in us. Lies should be the last thing on our minds.
  • We are commanded to truth (Ephesians 4:25).
  • We are blameless in the truth.

Here is what the last one really means:

If we do what we say, avoid wrong-doing, and speak honestly in all things, there is no evidence against us.

When all of the evidence supports us, we get out of trouble.

(To be fair, however, we also know that we will receive much trouble because of the truth and righteousness of Christ, as told by Jesus in Matthew 24:9)

It is always better to “play it safe” and be honest, but there is also ample evidence throughout the Bible that we are called to the higher standard.

Ultimately, it is repenting of our lying hearts and turning to the truth of who Jesus Christ is that saves us from Ultimate Trouble. That is not just playing it safe. That is smart.

Righteous Judge, give us honest hearts and lips. Lead us in all truth. Help us forgive and love those who are still caught in the lie of sin, especially when we are caught in the middle of their lies. Help us to be honest with ourselves and own up to our own lies.


The Word that Makes a Difference

Proverbs 12:12

“The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

Which Word?

In the version of Scripture written above (KJV), the Hebrew word מָצוֹד (mä·tsōde’) is translated net. In other versions it is rendered as stronghold, booty, catch, loot, and “what evil men have” (HCSB). So which is the correct word? Simple! The correct word is מָצוֹד; the rest are translations.

Seriously, there are still many in Christendom who would argue over this, but I’m not going to. You see, the idea is the same: the wicked desire what evil men have, along with whatever it takes to get and keep it.

Sometimes it’s just not that easy to put all that into one English word.

The Contrast

There is a stark contrast between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” Can you distinguish it? One wants what another has, while the other wants nothing more than to produce for others.

We see in this proverb the difference between one man who envies the successful criminal, and another man who cares not for what others have; he just wants to be a productive citizen.

The wicked, however resourceful, however brilliant, is selfish. In his heart he longs to be more like his more evil counterparts, his heroes who live in bigger houses, drive nicer cars, and exert more influence and power. He cares nothing about who he has to walk on to get there, even his heroes.

The righteous is content with where he is planted and only wants to do the best with what he has been given. He doesn’t necessarily aspire for a greater station in life, only to be useful, helpful, and an encouragement to future generations. He is known for giving of himself.

The Hard Truth

But do you want to know something really sad? Do you want to hear something horrible? So many of us have allowed ourselves to be the “wicked” man in this proverb and don’t even realize it!

James chapter four deals a lot with the envious nature of man and his tendency to fight and war when he doesn’t get what he wants. We war with each other because we want what the other has. We lust; we envy; we even consider killing.

You cry out in defense of your character, “Oh, but that’s not me!” Really? I’d bet you a dollar to a movie ticket you’ve had thoughts like the “wicked” man in Proverbs 12:12. Ever wished you could be the bad guy in a movie? Ever wished you could have the power that came with being a vampire? Ever wished you could strike fear into a person’s heart like a mob boss can?

See, the hard truth is that none of us are righteous, “no not one.” Our wicked flesh is more desperate and sneaky than we give it credit. But how do we change? As the Apostle Paul once asked (Rom. 7:24), “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Jesus, that’s who…the Word that really makes a difference.