June 22: Words That Heal (Proverbs 18:21)
The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,
and whoever utters slander is a fool.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (ESV)
Proverbs 12:13-14, 17-19
An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
but the righteous escapes from trouble.
From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man's hand comes back to him.
Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs is God's wisdom for God's people to live skillfully and wisely as image bearers. The knowledge needed to live skillfully is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord comes as we recognize the redemptive power and compassion of God in the cross of Jesus Christ. As we see the cross we are left with “affectionate reverence” for God as we see his absolute holiness and untraceable mercy to us in Jesus, who has reconciled us to God through his death and resurrection. One key aspect of this skillful living in displayed in our speech. All of us have said, “I can't believe I said that,” or “I wish I could take that back.” James reminds us that the tongue is restless and quite challenging.
The call in Proverbs is to walk in God's wisdom by using words that are intentional and upbuilding to others. In Proverbs 10:11 Solomon reminds us that the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. God intended our speech to be used for worship of his glory and for the benefit of his people. Our words are powerful and when used unwisely cause great pain, but when used in wisdom can bring healing and life to others. Consider your conversational patterns in your friendships, marriage, parenting and work contexts. What is revealed of the wisdom of God?
Review and Apply
Please consider the following questions.
- How would you answer the question, Why do our words matter?
- How have you harmed others with your words?
- What are three ways to bring healing and hope to others through our conversation?
- Explain how you have practiced your answer to question 3.
- Give an example of a time you have brought hurt or help to the church through your speech.
- What is the source of our words and how can you bring change to it?
- How do we speak in light of the gospel?
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