Proverbs: Life In Detail-Solomon’s Wisdom For Our Words

Proverbs: Life In Detail-Solomon’s Wisdom For Our Words

Welcome: Lose Lips Sink Ships
During WWI, enemy spies used to hang around the British pubs to hear loose talk about ship movements. Sailors would talk about their next assignments, where they were going, when they were leaving—vital information for the German submarines. Just a few careless words would tip the enemy off and thousands of lives would be lost. A slogan was raised to remind people of the terrible devastation that could result from words ill spoken, “Loose lips, sink ships”. The problem of careless talk was so great that the government began to put up posters like the example I have on the overhead. 

Words are not simply sounds caused by air passing through our larynx. Words have real power. God spoke the world into being by the power of His words (Hebrews 11:3), and we are in His image in part because of the power we have with words. Words do more than convey information. The power of our words can actually destroy one’s spirit, even stir up hatred and violence. They not only exacerbate wounds but inflict them directly. Of all the creatures on this planet, only man has the ability to communicate through the spoken word. The power to use words is a unique and powerful gift from God.

Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Proverbs 12:6). The writer of Proverb tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”(Proverbs 18:21). Are we using words to build up people or destroy them? Are they filled with hate or love, bitterness or blessing, complaining or compliments, lust or love, victory or defeat? Like tools they can be used to help us reach our goals or to send us spiraling into a deep depression.

Furthermore, our words not only have the power to bring us death or life in this world, but in the next as well. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”(Matthew 12:36-37). Words are so important, that we are going to give an account of what we say when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your Words Are Powerful!

Proverbs 15:1-4,18 ESV
1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
    keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Solomon’s Wisdom For Our Words…

I. Learn To Whisper vs. 1
Proverbs 15:1 ESV
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Friends, conflict is natural among us humans.  It is unfortunately unavoidable.  Conflict is unavoidable in the family, in the workplace and yes…it is even unavoidable here at church.  When we are not arguing about something, we will invent something to argue about.  So, how do you manage conflict in your home, in your office or right here at church?

Do you shout?

Most people do.  It seems that the greater the argument, the more we are tempted to raise our voices.  Perhaps whoever is the loudest somehow wins.  We turn conflict into a competition.  The reality is when we shout at one another we are really just thickening the barriers between us.  

Do you slander?

Most people do.  When we are arguing or embroiled in conflict, one of the quickest ways to make our point is to slander the person that we are battling.  We slander their character and integrity.  

Friends, neither one of these routes is effective.  Shouting and slandering never works.  It won’t work in your marriage. It won’t work in your office.  It won’t work in the church.  

Friends, when conflict comes knocking at your door, the temptation is to reflect what is being done at you.  When someone shouts at you, you shout back.  When someone hurts you, you hurt back.  That is not the Jesus way.  

A few years ago I attended a conference where Andy Stanley was speaking.  Andy was giving a very important illustration about his father Charles Stanley.  The elder Stanley has just become the pastor of famed First Baptist Church Atlanta.  During that time, the church was poorly located and was not reaching people for Christ.  Charles Stanley proposed a move to the suburbs where the people were located.  Of course this move was hotly debated.  There were rumors that the church was going to split.  There were rumors that Stanley would be fired.  In one particular business meeting, Stanley was speaking to the merit of moving and a lay member marched up to the stage and slugged Stanley right in the jaw.  The congregation subdued the man guilty of the assault and Stanley simply resumed his speech.  

When asked about how he felt about the opposition He said, "I've responded to their threats, their criticism, their, opposition with number one, silence; number two, love; number three, prayer." 

You see, Stanley knew that reflecting the same outpouring of distrust would never work.  Instead, he choose in that moment to act like Jesus.  

Not long ago, I sat with a member of our church.  She works in a very difficult environment.  She was getting frustrated with atmosphere that she worked in.  In this environment, there is course language and consistent belittling.  She was ready to quit and perhaps go so far as moving to a different town.  She asked me what she should do.  

I told her that she should reflect Jesus.  Jesus has uniquely place her in that dark environment to light a candle.  Remember, one lit candle can push back an ocean of darkness.  

Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

II. Learn To Wait vs. 2
Proverbs 15:2 ESV
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Illustration: It’s Coming Back
Little boy is selling a push mower to a preacher. Examining the machine, he asks, “Does it run?” “Yes,” answered the boy. “May I start it?” “Go ahead,” said the lad. The preacher pulled and pulled and pulled, but the mower would not start. The preacher said, “This thing will not start.” The boy explained, “That’s because you have to ‘cuss’ it.” “Well, I am a preacher. I haven’t cussed in 18 years,” said the preacher. The boy answered, “Keep pulling, it’ll come back to you.”

Have you ever heard the expression, “He has a short fuse”?  What does that mean?  It means that someone is easily angered.  If someone says something or does something, they immediately erupt, they detonate like dynamite.  

Do you know people like that?  I do.  I know lots of people with short fuses.  Have you ever taken a short fuse exam.  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you might a person with a short fuse.

1. Does conflict seem to follow you around?
2. Do you lack deep friendships?
3. Do you feel like people avoid you?
4. Do you dwell on perceived slights?
5. Do you struggle with letting go and moving on when someone hurts you?

If you answered yes to most of the questions, friend you may need to lengthen your fuse.  Another way of saying “lengthen your fuse” is “giving a little grace can go a long way”.  Take a deep breath, count to ten, and realize that not everything is going to go your way all the time and thats “ok”.  

Remember the carpenter’s motto: Measure twice, cut once. Let this be our relationship motto: Listen twice, speak once.

Be careful that you don’t lash out.  In doing so you might damage an important relationship.  I have seen many marriages blow up because they became battle grounds of quick tempered men and women.  I have seen dating relationship end because of short fuses and harsh words.  I have seen family members not speak to each other for years because of silly and petty arguments.  

Proverbs 12:23 NIV
23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

Remember last week when we read James 1:19:20.  James encouraged his readers to pause, process and pardon.  

III. Learn To Chose Your Battles Wisely vs. vs. 3-4 and 18
Proverbs 15:3-4 and 18
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
    keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

A husband was in big trouble when he forgot his wedding anniversary. 

His wife told him----"Tomorrow there better be something in the driveway for me that goes zero to 200 in 2 seconds flat". 

The next morning the wife found a small package in the driveway.

She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale. 

Funeral arrangements for the husband have been set for this Saturday.

Illustration:Yoda Picks His Battle
Now this illustration may seem a bit unspiritual but I believe it’s application is important.  I am a huge Star Wars nerd.  I am really excited about the new movies coming out.  Curious, who is your favorite Star Wars character? 

If any of you say Jar Jar Binks I am going to doubt your salvation.  Just kidding.

One of my favorite characters is Yoda.  In every film Yoda seems very small, fragile, frail and yes old.  Very old.  Yet, Yoda is wise.  No one debates that.  I remember in Episode II, there is a standoff with the Sith Lord Count Dooku and Yoda.  Do you remember that scene.  After trading some pleasantries, Yoda flips out.  Yoda who was old and frail becomes a master of the lightsaber.  He is flipping.  He is turning.  He is lightening quick.  You can hardly chart his motions.  At the end of the battle, Dooku escapes and Yoda picks up his walking stick and returns to normal.  He is back to hobbling around.  

What made that battle interesting is that Yoda picked a very important battle to fight.  However, he did not fight every battle that came his way.  Not every battle was worthy of his time and energy.  Some battles can be fought by others.  However, when it was time to make a stand, Yoda was ready.  

What can we learn from this illustration?  We can learn that not every battle has to be fought.  Yoda didn’t fight every battle and neither do you.  

I read about a psychiatric hospital with this sign at the entrance: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?"

You see, sometimes we are more interested in being right than being well.  We want to fight every battle.  We want to be right in our homes, in our offices and right here at church.  Well, you may be right but you will not always be well.  Remember a gentle word is a tree of life.  A man slow to anger quiets quarreling.  

Read these words from James 3:5-9 with me,

James 3:5-9 NIV
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Can you go for twenty-four hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, anybody? Those who can’t answer yes must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you cannot go for twenty-four hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine. If you cannot go twenty-four hours without a drink, you’re most likely an alcoholic. If you can go 24 hours without a drug, then you might be an abuser.  Similarly, if you cannot go for twenty-four hours without saying unkind words about others, then you have lost control over your tongue."

We need to pray that God would help us to "bridle" not only our tongues, but also the attitude by which words are said. "It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it". 

Remember friend, it takes a strong person to be able to hold his tongue.  It takes a strong person to use their tongue in a constructive manner.  Remember, the words that you use say a lot about who we are on the inside.  

These are Jesus’ words…

Matthew 12:34-35 ESV
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they speak.  How they communicate is very important because it reveals the state of their soul.  So, if you were to measure you soul on the productivity of your communication, how would you fare?  

Finally remember this, God is watching…and listening. His ears and eyes are everywhere and we will give an account for every word spoken.  

Matthew 12:36 NIV
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

Today do you need to ask forgiveness from your spouse for harsh critical words that you have spoken in the past?  Do you need to examine yourself to discover if you are a quick tempered person who is unwilling to let go and forgive?  Are you stirring up issues and problems everywhere you go?  If that’s you, it’s not to late.  You can make amends, find forgiveness and change.  

Turn This Information Into Action!


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