The Proverbs have much to say about our speech. We all know that the words that come out of our mouths can get us into trouble and hurt others. We all have a problem with taming our tongue. The book of James spends a great deal of time on this topic. It is the hardest area in our lives to control. Let’s take some time and see what the Proverbs have to say about speech.
The Speech of a Fool
“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Proverbs 18:6-7
- A fool stirs up trouble. We can use our words to be aggressive by speaking out against others. We may be very defensive when someone tries to help by correcting some of the things we’ve said. We may speak in an argumentative way in order to get our thoughts heard. All of these interactions can stir up trouble between people.
- A fool speaks thoughtlessly. This is something we can all struggle with as we speak before thinking. Sometimes it’s because we want our opinion to be made know; so we’ll interrupt and blurt it out. Other times, we have no consideration for the one who is suffering and may give a pat answer to a complex situation.
- A fool is divisive. This happens when we interrupt with rash, irritating comments. Our opinion is the only one that matters, and we don’t really care about others. This is an invitation to others to respond in anger to us.
- A fool is trapped by his own words. When we lie to others, we can become entangled by our lies. There comes a point when we can’t keep the lies straight anymore. Who did I tell that to? We may lie so much that others soon don’t believe anything we say.
The life of a fool is not one we should be living as followers of Christ. Our speech needs to reflect our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Let’s focus on what the Proverbs have to say about the speech of the wise.
The Speech of the Wise
“The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:23-24
- Wise speech begins with a wise heart. Our desire is to have a wise heart that motivates our speech. The wisdom we have comes from God as we ask him for it. We also gain wisdom as we read the Word daily, adding to our knowledge. The wise heart is so important for us because it causes us to be careful with our words. The words we say will be more focused on a desire to help others than on ourselves. A wise heart will keep us from blurting out whatever comes into our minds.
- Wise speech persuades others toward truth. As followers of Christ, we are called to give warnings to those who are wandering from the truth. We are called to speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters. We will use pleasant words of encouragement, comfort, and challenge in order to help others.
- Wise speech is always about others. We are to speak with the other’s best interest in mind. This is vital for the growth and benefit of our brothers and sisters.
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 1:27-28
- Wise speech will be restrained. As followers of Christ, we are to think before we speak. We are to engage our brain and consider what we will say. This will keep us from blurting out hurtful words. This is the wisdom of self-control. When we act in a controlled manner with our speech, we will know when and what to speak. We will also be even-tempered or have a cool spirit as our proverb says.
- Wise speech will, sometimes, be no speech. We all need to learn when to be quiet. It’s interesting that even a fool is thought wise when he is quiet. It’s important to be quiet, especially in order to listen well to someone.
The life of wisdom is one we should be living as followers of Christ. Our speech needs to be wise and will be so as we strive to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures.
Let’s take some time and evaluate our speech with the following questions.
Am I a good listener? Do I really care about what someone is saying to me? Am I more concerned with my reply to someone? Do I speak with the other’s best interest in mind? Do I seek to honor God with my speech? Do I talk about God? Do I encourage the truth in others and in myself? What do I need to change in my thoughts and my speech in order to look more like Jesus?
Wow! What a task God has given us to speak into each other’s lives! Who are you speaking to? Who are you listening to?