Proverbs contains a series of short sentences of wisdom; biblical wisdom helps us live in a God honouring way.
One theme found in Proverbs is the importance and power contained within the words we speak. Throughout proverbs there are over 150 references to our tongue, words or speech, here we discover that our words are valuable but if they are not used wisely, they can be extremely volatile.Some proverbs to consider
‘The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.’ Prov. 10v11
‘He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin’ Prov. 13v3
‘A soft answer turns away wrath; a harsh word stirs up anger’ Prov. 15v1
‘A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.’ Prov. 17v27-28
‘Don’t talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow’ Prov. 10v19
Our words are used so freely when in fact they can be so powerful that is why the spiritual discipline of silence is so powerful – when I don’t speak I lessen my sin output – some who regularly practice silence – gives God space and gives us space – it’s hard to speak without sinning and justifying ourselves.How does God want us to use our tongue/speech/talk?
Why are our Words so powerful?
- It is a Tree of Life (Prov. 15v4)
- Refreshing well of water (Prov. 18v4)
- Healthy dose of medicine (Prov. 12v18)
- Brings peace and teaching others wisdom (Prov. 15v1)
- Sharing Good News (gospel of salvation) (Prov. 25v25)
How can we use wisdom in our speaking?
- My Words Speak about Me
Our words represent us and reveal us, speak about what we are passionate about, our motives, joy and pain are all revealed. Jesus spoke about our words revealing what is going on within us. When He spoke about things that are within our heart (Mt 12v34) and things that are in abundance within our heart (Luke 6v45), these will generally be seen through the words we speak. This is why Proverbs tells us to ‘guard our heart’ because it affects the kinds of words we will say, read Prov. 4v23.
- My Words Create an Atmosphere around ME
Pr 15v4 ‘kind words bring life but cruel words crush your spirit’ Our words create an atmosphere around us and also create an atmosphere for the way people can interact and dialogue with us, its important for us to use wisdom to be effective in our communication.
- My Words impact Others
Prov.18v21 ‘the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit’ Our words have the power to hurt and to heal. We were told as children ‘sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt us’ this simply is not true, words can cause great damage.
Alternatively, Proverbs tells us of the ability our words have to heal those around we encounter, read the following scriptures, ‘Thoughtless words can sound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.’ Prov. 12:18
‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’ Prov.16v24
James encourages us to THINK before we speak, following is a helpful acronym that we can use as a filter and consider the way we speak and the words we are prepared to say.
T - Is it Truthful?
H - Is it Helpful? Or is it going to harm?
I - Is it Inspirational? Is what you are going to say going to build up or tear down? Are these words encouraging?
N - Is it Necessary?
K - Is it Kind?
It truly is vital for us to THINK before we speak.
Paul also encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11. When we encourage others we literally ‘give courage to’, we have the power to deposit courage within the lives of those around us.Sample Discussion Questions
- Have you experienced words that have caused hurt in your life?
- What are some practical ways we can speak wisely to one another?
- What are some other keys for us to communicate effectively beyond our words?
- How can we use the THINK acronym effectively?
- If anyone present feels that words spoken have hurt them in any way that they could walk in freedom from words spoken to them.
- That we could be people who give courage to those around us and our words would be words that bring healing.