Tuesday, January 24
How have you used your “fountain of life” today (Proverbs 10:11)? Did you know when to keep it shut? Can you think of a time when you used it (your mouth) to nourish others? In today’s readings there are several more excellent verses reminding us again of the power of our words. And of course we know that “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. Some verses worthy of being great refrigerator verses are:
11:12 – A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.
12:18 – Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
12:28 – An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
13:3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
My guess is we can all quickly think of a time when someone’s words pierced us, and also a time when someone’s words healed us. Can you also think of a recent time when your own words pierced another? What about brought healing or cheered up someone? How can we make a better plan for our mouth so we don’t just say the first thing that comes to mind, which can lead to ruin?
How about experimenting with ranking your mouth at the end of each day for the next week or two. A big fat score of 0 would be for a day filled with piercing words spoken rashly: accusations, angry outbursts, rudeness, gossip, lies or twisted truths, put-downs (even in jest? It’s not really funny), boasting, manipulating, cursing and foul language, I’m sure you can think of more. And of course our goal would be a shining 10 score for a day full of polite speech, genuine compliments, thankfulness, apologies, forgiveness extended, words of encouragement and sometimes sympathy, morsels of truth at just the right moment, Godly wisdom and Bible verses shared – and none of that nastiness that automatically pull your score down. From day to day be looking for ways to grow your own score. Be more mindful of how you use your words – and sometimes more appropriately, your gift of silence – and the impact it has on those around you. Hold yourself accountable for the proper use of your fountain of life. For only then will you be called righteous. (10:11)
There is so much more wisdom and lessons for the one seeking to live a righteous life! Come to think of it – Proverbs also has great advice if you are aiming to be a stupid fool. Solomon could have titled Proverbs, “How to Be STUPID”. Proverbs 12:1 is a great start: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is STUPID.” And, since reading it once isn’t always enough . . .
13:1 – He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored
13:10 – Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice
12:15 – The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice
Raise your hand if you think you are right most of the time. My hand goes up. Guilty as charged. No doubt it is my pride that makes me think I am right and they are wrong. Sometimes, I AM right. But, when I am WISE I will realize and accept that I am also sometimes wrong. I have been, am and will be wrong, in need of correction and discipline and sorely in need of advice. Why should I even LOVE discipline (12:1) – because I want more and more to be as Godly as possible (Be holy, because I am holy – I Peter 1:16)– and right now there is still a pretty huge gap between God’s holiness and mine. Dear God, help me grow a more humble spirit that accepts correction well.
So many great proverbs, so little time. We sadly won’t go into detail about the sluggard, pig snout, chasing fantasies or husband’s crown or so many others. But just one last nugget for those who want to be wise. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (13:20). If you desire to avoid harm (and I sure hope you do) – choose your companions carefully. Don’t waste your time searching for perfect people to be friends with – that can be a real disappointment. But choose to spend your time side by side with those who are seeking to grow closer and closer to the Father.