Tag Archives: Words

Fast Talk

Proverbs 29:20 

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. (NLT) 

The problem with words issued in haste is that they cannot be withdrawn. In this day and age the warning in this proverb should also apply to email. I speak from experience. Several years ago I hit the send button on an email I thought I was forwarding, without checking the email properly, or considering what I had written. I was frustrated with a certain Swedish individual by the name of Lennart who had just informed that he would be unable to translate a couple of documents for at least two weeks. These documents were vital to a report I was required to submit in less than two weeks. In my frustration, I forwarded the email to my boss with the comment; ‘Lazy Lenny says he can’t translate our statements!”

To my surprise, I received a reply almost immediately. Incredibly it was not from my boss but from Lazy Lenny. I couldn’t understand how he had accessed my email, but I felt my face starting to glow and radiate extreme amounts of heat as I read the words; “I am not Lazy Lenny sitting on the beach all day drinking beer!” Various excuses as to why he could not translate the documents sooner were also included. When I looked through the email more carefully I realized my error. I had hit the reply button instead of forward.

My email did spur Lazy Lenny into action and I had my translations later that day, but the point is that I wrote words that were rude in haste. I learned a massive lesson that day: The wisdom of Scripture is as important in our modern electronic age as it was thousands of years ago.

But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. (James 5:12 NLT)

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Flattery or Favour?

Proverbs 28:23

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (KJV).

Love Languages:

One of my favourite books is one called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In this book, he talks about how people give and receive love in five main different ways: Words of affirmation, Acts of service, Receiving gifts, Quality time and Physical touch. It was a very practical, useful teaching because my wife and I have different love languages. Mine is words of affirmation, and hers is receiving gifts. The challenge came when I would want to communicate love with her, and I would use words of affirmation, but that didn’t translate well for her. When I discovered that her love language was receiving gifts, I found it much easier to communicate love to her in a way that she would understand it.

So my love language is words of affirmation. More than a gift, any act of service, time spent or physical touch, the best way to communicate love to me is through words. That’s why I may not get excited about a gift, but when someone sends me a card, letter or an e-mail with words of affirmation in it, I feel loved. However, there is a big difference between affirmation and flattery.

Affirmation or Flattery?

Have you ever had someone flatter you? Flattery is defined as “excessive, insincere praise.” As much as I enjoy genuine words of affirmation, there is nothing more annoying to me than fake words of flattery. And although I don’t like being rebuked or corrected either, I would rather have someone be honest with me and tell me what they really think.

Loving Rebuke:

If you really love someone, then when you see that they are getting off into trouble, or doing something that might hurt themselves or others, you will challenge and rebuke them. And believe me, I don’t enjoy this anymore than you do! I don’t like confrontation, but if I truly love my friends, then I need to be willing to bring rebuke or correction when they need it. They may not like it initially, but as Solomon says, “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour.”

Matthew Henry describes this well in his excellent Bible commentary: “He that cries out against his surgeon for hurting him when he is searching his wound will yet pay him well, and thank him too, when he has cured it.”

If a friend brings you a rebuke or a criticism about your behaviour, do a quick search and see if there’s anything to what they have to say. And, if what they are saying is true, humbly be quick to repent and change your behaviour. Then make sure you thank your friend for their loving concern for you and your well-being. If you see one of your friends getting off into trouble, make sure you speak the truth in love to them as well, and when you do, you can rest assured that sooner or later you will find their favour. They will appreciate your honesty!


The Praise Test

Proverbs 27:21.
“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” (KJV).
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (NLT). 

Student Writing

The Purpose of the Test:

I don’t know of anyone who enjoys tests. I have three children in high school and one child in middle school, and none of them have ever expressed a joy about having to take a test. I’ve never heard one of them come home from school and say, “Dad, I’m so excited, we get to take a test at school tomorrow! I’ll have to study all night. Awesome!” But like it or not, if they were never tested, they would never know if they were learning anything in their classes, and they would never know if they were growing or progressing in their studies.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon tells us that the refiner’s fire is used to test the purity of silver and gold. As these precious metals are heated up, all of the scum and junk that’s hidden within them come to the surface so that the refiner can remove it from the top, so all that remains is precious and pure. In the same way, a person is tested when they are praised.

The Fire of Praise:

When you stoke up the fire of praise, you will quickly find out what is in a person’s heart. Someone said once about praise that “vain men seek it, weak men are inflated by it, and wise men disregard it.” How do you respond when someone praises you?

If someone becomes proud or conceited when they are praised, and take the glory that only God deserves, they will show that they are really a weak or a selfish person. However, if when someone is praised he responds by giving God the glory, and endeavouring to live a life that reflects that shows that they were indeed praiseworthy, then they are a humble or a wise person.

There is a story told that at a Washington, D.C., press conference in 1952, Sir Winston Churchill was asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?” Churchill responded by saying, “It is quite flattering, but whenever I feel this way I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

Giving and Receiving Praise:

We’re not saying here that praise is bad. It’s not necessarily bad to give or receive praise. In fact, Romans 12:3 tells us that we are to give honor to whom honor is due. But we are also warned: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).

So if you see someone do something praiseworthy, commend them for it! But if you do something noble, don’t boast about it. Do it as unto the Lord, and let him reward you for what you have done. If someone praises you for something you do, then reflect that glory back to the Lord, the one who gave you the grace to do it in the first place. Amen?


Afflicted and Ruined

Proverbs 26:28.
“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (KJV). 

Life Lessons:

There are three main places where we go to learn things. One is the home – where we learn from our parents. Ideally, we learn here values, morals, good habits and etiquette. Second is the school, where we learn the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. (I know, neither writing nor arithmetic – math – start with the letter ‘R’, but that’s what they used to call it back in the day). And finally, the third is the church, where we learn about the love of God, how to know Him, how there’s a hell to shun and a Heaven to gain.

At church, we have the benefit of learning from the wisest of all wise – God Himself. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it we learn wise lessons for living life. I want to challenge you, reader – do you read the Bible? If not, then what are you waiting for? A virtual treasure trove of wisdom awaits you!

SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon, an old Baptist preacher from the 19th Century (known affectionately as the Prince of Preachers) had this to say about the Bible: “The best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace.” The challenge is this: Read the Bible!

Warnings against Lying and Flattery:

After that lengthy introduction, let us now come to today’s text. Here Solomon says: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.” (NLT). Let us look at both of these warnings separately here.

First of all, in the KJV of this verse, Solomon tells us that a lying tongue causes affliction. The original Hebrew word sheqer translated lying means lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood, deceit, fraud, wrong, to testify falsely. And when you lie, you cause affliction. That Hebrew word dak means to oppress or crush someone. Anytime you lie about someone, you are afflicting, oppressing or crushing them. Think about that the next time you go to tell a lie! And Solomon also says here that when you lie about someone, it shows that you hate them.

Secondly, Solomon tells us that a flattering mouth works ruin. Flattery means to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively. I don’t mind an encouraging word of affirmation if it is sincere, but someone who flatters insincerely causes ruin. So be warned – our words are powerful, and if we don’t use them wisely, we can cause affliction and bring ruin!


Sticks and Stones

Proverbs 25:18.

“A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” (KJV).

Playground Lies:

Calvin & Hobbes - sticks and stones

Do you remember that old adage you used to repeat on the playground when someone called you names? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Or there was the oh-so-smart, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” As clever as those phrases may be, unfortunately, neither of them is true. Words hurt!

In today’s Proverb, Solomon teaches us about the power of words. In the New Living Translation of this Scripture, he says, “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Words hurt!

Deep Wounds:

I’ll be honest. I would rather have someone punch me in the face than lie about me, gossip about me, or slander my name. If you punch me or kick me, I’ll get a bruise that will go away quickly. But words are wounds that go deep and have lasting repercussions.

I had a situation once where a person started telling all sorts of lies about me. He began gossiping about me to anyone who would listen. One of the first responses was that several people believed his lies, and they left the church. That was one of the external effects of his words. But internally, the words began to affect my heart as well.

I have always been a very positive and optimistic person. The glass is always half full, and I always believe the best about people. But as this person’s lies about me began to spread, I found myself getting overwhelmed emotionally by what he said. He was trashing my reputation, and ruining friendships that I had with people.

I started losing my joy, and his words started taking a physical toll on my body as well. I started having restless, sleepless nights. I started experiencing many migraine headaches, stomach problems, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and more. I started losing weight; I had little appetite, and had a hard time keeping anything down. I even had to take some stress leave from work – something I have never had to do before or since.

The point of today’s Scripture is simply this: Words are powerful! Think very carefully before you speak a negative word about someone else – whether it is true or false. Words hurt!

Check out this great 30 second ad that shows the power of words…


Golden Apples

Proverbs 25:11-12.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” (KJV).

A Word Fitly Spoken: Timely Advice

I love the Bible. Not just because it is God’s Word, giving us wisdom for living life and teaching us how to get to Heaven – but also because of the majestic, poetic symbolism the Holy Spirit uses to communicate truth with us. In Proverbs 25:11, Solomon (under the inspiration of God’s Spirit) tells us that someone who gives a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. The New Living Translation says: “Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket.” It’s sweet. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome.

Words are powerful! I have experienced many times the truth of Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Every word that we speak can bring life – comfort, encouragement, and hope – or it can bring death – depression, discouragement, or hopelessness. I have had people lie about me, gossip about me, and slander my name, and I know how much it has discouraged and frustrated me. How much it has caused me to want to give up.

But I have also experienced the flip side of the coin – words of encouragement, timely advice, words fitly spoken, that have been sweet, beautiful and awesome. I have people in my life who encourage me – whether it is through spoken words, handwritten cards, or an e-mail note or Facebook message. I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” That’s so true!

An Earring of Gold: Valid Criticism:

In Proverbs 25:12, Solomon tells us that a wise reprover upon an obedient ear is like a golden earring. In other words, “Valid criticism is as treasured by the one who heeds it as jewelry made from finest gold.” (NLT). Not only do we need words to encourage us when we are doing well, but there are times when we need good friends who will speak the truth in love and let us know when we’re messing up in our lives. Their goal isn’t to hurt or destroy us, but to help keep us on the straight and narrow. Such people are more valuable than precious jewels.

It would be nice if every time a wise person corrected their friend that they would be met with an obedient ear, willing to respond to that correction, but that is not always the case. Sometimes even when we speak the truth in love, people will reject that truth because they don’t want to change. That’s unfortunate!

Lord, give us people in our lives who will speak encouraging words of life to build us up and encourage us when we need it. But also give us people in our lives who will be wise reprovers, who will challenge us when we get into sin or error, and help us to have an obedient ear that is open to correction. Amen!


Soul Trouble

Proverbs 21:23.

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” (KJV).
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” (NKJV). 

Powerful Words:

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the words we speak – our mouth, our tongue, and our lips. I don’t think many people realize just how powerful our words are, but Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

What do you think would happen if, for the next 24 hours, every word you spoke became a reality? If you said, “I wish you were dead!” to someone, and they dropped dead. If you said, “I’m so fat and ugly,” and poof! Instantly you became fat and ugly. I think if we experienced one day like that (assuming we survived it), it would radically change the way we speak.

Although what we say may not always literally or instantly come to pass, there is still a supernatural power or energy behind those words. Proverbs tells us that our words can be pleasant like a honeycomb, words of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, or words can be deceitful, wicked, perverse, or foolish. Words can bring life or death, blessing or cursing. Today’s Proverb tells us that if we guard our mouth and tongue – and speak only words of life – we will keep our soul from trouble.

Idle Words:

Jesus Himself said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36-37). Now that’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? When we get to Heaven, we will have to give an account of every word we have ever spoken.

Lying words.              
Gossip words.
Slanderous words.     
Curse words.
Hurtful words.           
Critical or judgmental words.

Knowing that truth, shouldn’t we be motivated to guard our mouth and tongue? In doing so, we will be guarding our soul from trouble.

Graceful Words:

The Bible says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:29). Not only do our words bring death and destruction, they can also bring life, peace and blessing, and even impart God’s grace to other people’s lives.

Loving words.            
Kind words.
Helpful words.           
Encouraging words.
Accepting words.       
Forgiving words.
God’s Words.

What kind of words are you speaking?