Wisdom Seeker: Day 10

Proverbs 10

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

Proverbs 10:19-20

There’s quite a bit in today’s proverb collection about the use of the mouth. In fact, I believe we’ll find that subject comes up often throughout the book of proverbs.

Why? I think it’s because our speech so clearly reflects what’s truly in our hearts. Our mouths don’t cause us to sin; they reveal the sin that is already in us.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

But don’t fret! That is actually a very good thing. Think about it. If the use of my tongue reveals sin in my heart, it’s a gift! It’s out in the open now, so here’s my chance to acknowledge and confess the sin and repent.

So when I bark out harsh or angry words to my teenagers, it becomes my chance to confess the sinful anger I’ve harbored and repent – both to God and to the unfortunate teen who caught the sharp side of my tongue.

I can attest to the fact that this works. Trust me. I’ve spoken more than my share of harsh and angry words in my day.

But the good news is, over the years of habitually using my spoken works as a spotlight to reveal dark areas of my heart, those harsh and angry words don’t come as readily to the lips. In truth, there’s less anger in my heart to spawn them – thanks be to God!

So there’s my challenge to you today. When your words reveal some ugliness in your heart, go ahead and make it into a confession. And apologize sincerely, both to the person (even if they didn’t hear you mutter!) and to God. Then you can borrow the prayer I’ve borrowed from David:

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Psalms 141:3

Wisdom Seeker: Day 6

Proverbs 6

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life…

Proverbs 6:23

A couple of things stood out to me in today’s reading. First, verse 23 reminds me of portions of Psalm 119. I’ve written a series on Psalm 119 in the past, but today I just want to point out a couple of verses. Take a look:

  • Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
    (Psalms 119:35-37)
  • It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
    (Psalms 119:71)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
    (Psalms 119:105)

I have to wonder if Solomon had his father’s words in mind when he penned Proverbs 6:23? (Side note: It’s unclear whether David actually wrote Psalm 119, but the tone and the wording certainly sound like the shepherd king to me.)

This one section, anyway, calls to mind the light and lamp of the Word, and how discipline and instruction are crucial to life – at least in an eternal sense.

But don’t take my word for it:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

And speaking of peaceful fruit, verses 14 and 19 of today’s proverb speak of God’s displeasure with those who stir up strife and discord. An apt word for today with the constant temptation to add our voice to the global conversation on social media.

The younger me gleefully put in my two cents’ worth of nonsense when it came to adding comments, but the younger me did not often think through the impact of my words.

Today, with Psalm 141:3 on my lips as a prayer, I have a greater tendency to ask myself first: Does this need to be said? Does it add to the controversy or dispel it? Is it helpful or hurtful? Is it kind? Is it God-honoring? Is it necessary?

If any of those answers are negative, chances are good my two cents’ worth is exactly that: verbal coin which can’t even buy a stick of cheap candy.

Some things really are better left unsaid.

Holy Father, today we ask that You will set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door to our lips. You know how prone we are to speak rashly, without thought. Let Your Spirit be a harness for our speech, whether audible or typed, and ensure that our words bring life, hope, peace, and most of all, glory to You, amen.

When have you spoken or typed words you regret? How does this chapter speak to you?

Apt Words Then and Now

In the course of my life-coaching with my blonde daughter, I’ve read some of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. This section stood out to me as incredibly pertinent to the modern day. It also reminded me of some more ancient words penned in a letter to a young preacher named Timothy some hundreds of years ago.

“In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling [sic] and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country. Whenever I was solicited to insert any thing of that kind, and the writers pleaded, as they generally did, the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper was like a stage-coach, in which any one who would pay had a right to a place, my answer was, that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself, but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction; and that, having contracted with my subscribers to furnish them with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill their papers with private altercation, in which they had no concern, without doing them manifest injustice. Now many of our printers make no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies, which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences.These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and disgrace their profession by such infamous practices…”  –Benjamin Franklin from his autobiography

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene…
(2 Timothy 2:14-17a)