Tag Archives: Speech

Marriage Advice … for All

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Proverbs 11:12, ESV

Today happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary.

Any good husband will tell you there is a time when you should just keep your mouth shut and listen to your wife.

Honestly, it is advice that can go both ways. Neither partner should be so prideful as to assume you know everything better than the other. Mutual communication benefits both!

Conversely, it is unwise to speak down to the other. Belittling – literally causing someone’s ideas and character to seem small and meaningless – only creates pain and bitterness. It is no longer a partnership but a tyranny, and even more confusing when both are guilty of this. Whoever belittles attempts to control the other, and this means slavery and problems.

It is best to work together and be willing to hear each other out.

And, yes, I may be talking about married couples, but this advice applies to any relationship, even with strangers.

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Safely across to dry ground

buckley

The Mighty Wonder Buck enjoying his outing.

Buckley and I enjoy terrain hiking in a tiny semi-secluded patch of the planet belonging to the college where my husband works.  It’s private land, so I’m thinking the town’s leash laws are not in effect. It’s also one of the few places I can let him range, and he loves it!

So do I.  Not only for myself, but I get such a kick out of watching him enjoy the freedom, and I marvel at the sure-footedness of this rescue pound-puppy of ours.  Not that I can say that about myself, mind you.  No, this one carries a walking stick, wears special insoles in trail running shoes (in which I walk, not run), and even then I have to pick carefully through leaves and creek beds, using that opposable thumb to grab and hoist myself up the hills.

Buckley, the barefoot creature without the opposable thumb?  Right.  He leaves me in the dust. 

I have to be especially attentive when crossing a brook.  Picking my way safely can be challenging (it’s part of the fun), and watching for slippery moss on the rocks is imperative.  If I’m not careful, I’m all wet. 

Hold that thought for a sec.

Proverbs chapter ten is largely concerned with my words, which is a pretty good indicator of what’s in my heart.  Here is a running commentary contrasting the attitude (as shown by their words) of the wise person versus the fool.  Just a sampling—

The wise are glad to be instructed,
    but babbling fools fall flat on their faces…

People with integrity walk safely,…

This isn’t just an observation, (Solomon was quite good at that), but more importantly, a warning.  It’s easy to be drawn into a foolish argument; that is, an argument that is void of the primary foundation of wisdom—

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Without this, the encounter can become slippery at best, treacherous at worst, causing confusion, rancor, and division (to name a few.)

Here’s another comparison—

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;

…but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

Are my words giving life?  Or are my words making safe passage unattainable?

Or is it a discussion I should even enter into at this place?

When one of these conversations presents itself, the godly participant does well to stand on the shore and survey how to get across safely to the other side. 

Otherwise, you’re all wet.

Proverbs 10:8,9,11,14; 9:10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Good Speech

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. –Proverbs 4:24

Do not be confused: it does say “froward” and not “forward” in this verse. Other translations say instead “deceitful” or “crooked”. Most translations still keep the word “perverse” in there somewhere.

Do not be deceived: Nor deceive. This proverb is reminding us that it is not okay to lie (the 9th Commandment, Exodus 20:16), and telling us that it is not good to “have a foul mouth” or denigrate others or … tell dirty jokes.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 4:26; 5:4, NIV

(See also Colossians 3)

Look at the world today, especially in the United States of America. How many people are stepping down or being fired from positions of power because of comments or jokes they have made?

It is not okay to talk this way, to lie, to objectify others, to speak flippantly about matters or people, to use “bad words.”

Does this mean we can never tell jokes?  Of course not. (I would be in so much trouble if this were true!)

However, we should “Be wise in the way you act toward [others]; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,” (Colossians 4:5-6) so that we may remain “blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’” (Philippians 2:15)

As I have told many friends, especially those who work with children, it is better to be in the habit of not using certain words than to let them slip out when we least want them to.


Mind Your Tongue

Proverbs 27:3 

A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier. (NLT)

My wife helps runs a mother and tot group. I help put out the toys, although not every week. One item that appears periodically is the sandpit. I hate the sandpit. All the helpers hate the sandpit. Not just because it is heavy, but also because it is awkward to maneuver. Every now and again my wife asks me to visit the local DIY store to buy new sand for the sandpit. The bags of sand are also heavy and awkward, especially when lifting them into the boot/trunk of a car. I have had cause to buy bags of stone pebbles from the same store for my garden. The bags of stone are equally difficult to carry. If the bags of sand and stone were smaller then life would be easier, but that would mean moving more bags. Whichever way you look at it sand and stones can be a nuisance.

A fool shouting off his mouth about something he is ill informed to comment about is also a nuisance. Solomon refers to the anger caused to anyone on the receiving end of a fool’s nonsense. Like a bag of sand being lifted and carried the weight of it wears the carrier down. Lift or carry the bag awkwardly and it will cause pain, potentially for several weeks. In a similar way foolish words spoken without thought can cause pain for several weeks, perhaps even months and years. There is a daily responsibility shared by all of humanity to think carefully before words are spoken, and not be the fool that causes anger, resentment or pain.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one  (Matthew 5:37 NIV)


The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Proverbs 26:24-26

“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for [there are] seven abominations in his heart. [Whose] hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the [whole] congregation.” 

The Big Shots

Yesterday, David looked at verse 23 dealing with those who cover up their wickedness to look good. These verses come out of that.

He mentioned the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Today we tend to think about politicians or corporate bigwigs that put up a front to look good for their employees or their constituents. In truth, they are only out for their own gain.

The really bad ones are those who will stop at nothing, hurt anyone to get what they want or to be entertained.

The Church Enemy

The scariest ones are those in the Church.

Who are they? They are the church-goers who:

  • Gossip (sometimes through “prayer requests”)
  • Complain about everything at the church
  • Complain about everything in life
  • Live two separate lives: one at church and one everywhere else
  • Purposefully disobey the pastor or church teachings
  • Cause divisions (start fights, spread malicious rumors, etc.)
  • Give the minimum effort (and usually have excuses)
  • Never give any effort at church (and always have excuses, if they talk about it)
  • Those who justify every action they take (usually with “But you have to understand …”)
  • Who start debates with “I am a Christian, so …” and then attempt to defend non-Christian behaviors and actions.

I could go on for a very long time. They act like they love others, but they really hate.

The question is …

Did you see yourself in that list?

The scariest enemy is the one who acts like your friend. Read Galatians 5:19-21 for Paul’s list of who they are.

Heavenly Father, help us to remove all the falseness and pretense from our lives. Create in us a clean heart free of all malice, deceit, and wickedness. Help us to be followers of You and not the father of lies.


Out of Context

Proverbs 24:7

“Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.”
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.” (NIV)

Not Where It Belongs

I work in a classroom for children with autism. One of the more exasperating, yet somewhat funny, things about this job is how many times we have to stop the children from doing something gross.

One of their favorite pastimes, it would seem, is picking up something from the floor and immediately sticking it into their mouths.

We exclaim “That is not where it belongs! Spit it out!” We frequently have to “help” them with following that command.

We cannot get them to understand that what they are doing is wrong.

Not Where They Belong

In ancient times, the leaders and older men of a town would meet at the main gate for the town to discuss matters. People throughout the town knew they could go to these men for advice or to resolve disagreements.

These men were respected for their wisdom in matters, because they could usually teach from experience and the Torah (the Five books of Moses, or Genesis through Deuteronomy).

A person who refused to learn from his experiences and continue to make stupid mistakes therefore would have no place to give advice. His wisdom is not wisdom.

Bad Teachers

Others who should not give advice are some Christians.

These are the people who teach about Jesus and the Bible, but either they have not read the Bible or they do not understand what they are saying.

It is like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof quoting scripture that does not exist, only instead of being endearing it can lead others to heresy or drive non-Christians from the truth. They take things out of context or make up information. When confronted, they only get defensive and refuse to look at or change themselves.

Wise God, help us overcome our foolishness, and through Your Holy Spirit guide us in all wisdom. Remind us when it is better to hold our tongues than share what we do not understand.


Tongue-Tied

Proverbs 22:12

12 The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

Getting Confused

In Genesis chapter 9, immediately after the Flood, God told Noah’s family to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

So what did the people do within a few generations?

In Genesis 11 we find that they tried to settle in one place together and build a tower to live in there. It became known as the Tower of Babel, because these people transgressed God’s command. They refused to do as God commanded, so he confused their languages (the creation of different languages) and scattered them around the planet (the creation of different people groups).

In other words, God overthrew their words.

Preserved through Denial

However, God has a knack for keeping around some faithful friends.

This is the real reason Israel was established: to keep the record of God’s goodness and expectations of humanity, and to bring about His reconciliation with the world.

Israel could barely maintain a small minority of faithful followers, though. As a nation, they largely denied God’s truth.

Today, we live in a world of people who present confusing “facts.” Even when their own facts go against reason, they persist in their arrogance and often cause more confusion.

This is true within and outside of the Church.

Fortunately, God preserves sound knowledge through His Bible, through His Holy Spirit, and through a relative few who study matters and come to clear conclusions.

Are you slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19) and therefore grow in and preserve knowledge, or do you repeat whatever sounds good to you and spread confusion?

Wise Lord, help us to control our minds and tongues, that we may not cause more confusion and chaos but peace and understanding.