Today’s reading is Proverbs 10:17-32.
One of the recurring theme’s in today’s reading is how a person speaks. Consider:
- a fool conceals hatred with lies (v. 18a)
- a fool spreads slander (v. 18b)
- sin thrives in the presence of too many words (v. 19a)
- a cautious (“prudent”) person knows when not to speak (v. 19b)
- the words of a righteous person are very valuable (v. 20a)
- the words of a righteous person strengthen many people (v. 21a)
- the words of a righteous person are wise (v. 31a)
- ungodly words will be silenced (v. 31b)
- a righteous person knows how to use words to bring about a favorable result (v. 32a)
- but the
Words can change the course of a person’s life. They can persuade someone not to do something sinful, dangerous, or deadly. They can provoke someone to do something sinful, dangerous, or deadly. The right words can encourage a hurting heart and the wrong words can discourage a hopeful soul. Words are how we came to know Jesus as our Lord but they can also entice someone away from God.
Verse 19 definitely cautions us not to talk too much but most of the instructions in this passage are not about talking too much. The lesson in this passage is that your walk with God will show itself in how you talk. If you speak truth in ways that build up and strengthen others, giving them insight into wisdom, then your words will have great value and God will use them in the lives of other people. That is a reflection of a growing walk with God. On the other hand, if your words cause others to be tempted, to be seduced into sin, are hurtful, and hateful, that shows that there are issues in your heart that need to be addressed.
Sinning in what we say is one of the easiest ways to sin that exists. James says we all stumble in many ways and only a perfect person never sins in what he says (James 3:2). But as your walk with God grows, your ability to speak in ways that glorify God should grow, too. If you feel convicted about the things you say, ask God to use his word to root out the sins that cause you to say sinful speech. Then replace those things with truth from your own reading of Scripture and the strengthening of small groups and the teaching of our church’s ministries. Someday may it be said of us that our words “ nourish many” (v. 21) are “the fruit of wisdom” (v. 31) and that they “know what finds favor.” Then God will be glorified by our words as they reflect his changes and growth in us.