We all know that the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true. Words are powerful, and they can leave a positive or a negative impact on the receiver. In today’s proverbs, Solomon speaks of using words wisely:
- “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
- “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook” (Proverbs 18:4).
- “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (Proverbs 18:6-8).
- “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:20-21).
Later in the story, Jesus’ brother James is going to say that no one can tame the tongue – “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh” (James 3:8-12).
The only way to produce fruit that is acceptable to the Lord is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will later say that we must be washed and made new through the cleansing of the Spirit in order to have a heart from which flows living water – “‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39). Jesus will pour out the Spirit, also called the Helper, upon His people after His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. Therefore, while Jesus is on earth in the flesh, He will tell His disciples, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:7-11).
Jesus will also say that what flows out of our mouth reflects what is in our heart – “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). So in order to have a heart from which words of life flow we must be born again, made new, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul will explain this in his letter to Titus – “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
Once we have truly repented of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, He pours the Holy Spirit upon us giving us a new heart that hates sin. Does this mean that we will never say another ugly word again in the heat of anger and frustration? Probably not. There will always be a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. However, it does mean when we do stumble with our words as Christians, the Spirit will convict us, leading us to repent and to seek forgiveness and restoration with the Lord and the person we offended.
As Christians we are called to walk in the Spirit – “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). This means that we yield to the Lord’s control over our lives by seeking Him through prayer and time in His word —by being thankful and praising and worshiping Him for what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ. When we walk in the Spirit and allow the Lord to discipline us in ways of righteousness, the appetites of the flesh become less appealing as we begin to crave a holiness of living and kindness of speech that can only come from the Lord. Keep reading. (Proverbs 17:1-19:29)