Saturday, June 24, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 31, Wisdom Guards The Tongue

Solomon talks today about the role godly wisdom plays in helping us to guard our tongues. He will later return to this subject in Chapter 18 and say, "The tongue has the power of life and death." Words are powerful things. I would be willing to bet you can remember things that were said to you all the way back to your childhood, both good things and bad things. I know I can. I remember the words that encouraged me and made me feel good about myself, but I also remember the words that put me down and hurt my feelings. Some of the deepest wounds we will ever receive will be delivered by words. That's why it's so important to be careful about what we say to others. We don't want to be the kind of people who say hurtful things that someone will remember for the rest of their life.

The Lord's brother James had this to say about the power of the tongue, "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:5-6) Every year we see stories in the news about raging forests fires that were started by a small careless spark. Hundreds of acres, sometimes thousands of acres, are damaged. The tongue has the same kind of power. One small ugly word is capable of setting catastrophic events in motion. James points out that the person who loves the Lord should not allow his tongue to speak hurtful things, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be." (James 3:9-10) To curse our fellow man is to curse the Maker of our fellow man. James says that if we love God we have to love the people God created. The Apostle John agrees with James, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or a sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (1 John 4:20) Today Solomon will add his opinion to those who were the leaders of the early Christian church. He will tell us that we need godly wisdom to guard our tongues.

"The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult." (Proverbs 12:15-16) The king says, "A foolish person will only want to talk. He will not listen because he can't control his tongue. When he feels offended he will lash out with ugly words. He won't even stop to think before speaking. But the wise person will know how to hold his tongue. The wise person will stop and think before speaking."

"An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies." (Proverbs 12:17) Bearing false witness against someone is breaking one of the ten commandments. (Exodus 20:16) Keeping our tongues from lying about someone is so important that the Lord included it in His top ten rules for living.

This next verse is one we can all relate to, for we've all been victims of words that pierced us. "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18) I've had words spoken to me that have cut me to the quick, haven't you? We don't want to be the type of people who are capable of harming others in this way. We want to be the type of people of whom it can be said, "The words from their tongues bring healing! They always know what to say when I'm feeling down. They have helped me be stronger in my faith. They have used their tongues to pray for me, not to talk about me." I can thankfully say that I've been blessed to have had many people in my life who have spoken words of healing to me. If anyone has ever said something to you that encouraged and strengthened you and made you feel better about yourself, thank God for that person. Pray that He richly blesses the one who said such comforting things to you. I praise God for everyone He has ever sent to encourage me and to pray for me. I don't know where I would be without godly friends and acquaintances who knew just what to say when I felt at my lowest.

"Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. " (Proverbs 12:19) The pleasure that comes from embellishing a story and spreading gossip is short-lived, but there is a feeling of satisfaction in doing what's right. Yesterday my husband and I were moseying through a quaint little antique store and I saw a decorative wall plaque with this quote by John Henry Newman, "Virtue is its own reward". There is a peace that comes with living an honest life. We can lie down and sleep at night without fearing our deceit will be found out at any moment. We can rest securely in the knowledge that there is nothing hampering our relationship with the Lord. Solomon takes Mr. Newman's platitude a step further and says that God has a reward in store for the virtuous. The Lord has stored up treasures and rewards for those who are faithful to Him, and those treasures and rewards will last forever. They are not temporary like the treasures and rewards of this world.

"Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked will have their fill of trouble. The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy." (Proverbs 12:20-22) In case you need to hear some encouraging words today, the Lord says He is delighted with you if you are trustworthy. What higher praise can there be than for the God of the universe to say He admires your integrity? The Creator says to you, "I am proud of all the times you could have told a lie but didn't. I am thrilled that you perform your job at work in a trustworthy manner even when no one is watching. I am pleased that you say kind and helpful words to your fellow man instead of flying off the handle over every little thing. I couldn't be happier when you choose to be honest even when it would be easy to be dishonest. I am a proud Father. I am delighted with you!"

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