Thursday, January 26
So, how has your mouth been doing this week? Today is a great time to make some positive changes. One of my favorite Proverbs about our mouths is in today’s reading: “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21). Life or Death – you can’t get more powerful than that. Life or Death – what life-giving words will you use today? Life or Death – which will you be dishing out today?
And, just like your momma always said, “If you can’t find anything . . . to say that brings life . . . then DON’T say anything at all.” I’m pretty sure she got that from Proverbs. Maybe from 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” So, consider this the next time you open your mouth to speak words with the power of death – if you close your mouth before speaking it just might be a win-win for you and your listener alike. You might avoid proving yourself foolish, and your intended audience might be spared a deathly blow. And, if you do spit out those deathly words that are fighting to get out . . . does anyone win? Other verses also remind us of the importance of listening and how it leads to wisdom:
18:13 – He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.
19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise
Today’s chapters also repeatedly speak of the wisdom of overlooking an offense, or on the flip side, the foolishness of quarrelling. Do you more often find yourself holding onto a grudge or forgiving and moving on? Do you find your feelings easily hurt and hold it against others? Are you quick to start a quarrel, or let the moment pass in peace?
17:9 – He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
17:14 – Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
17:19 – He who loves a quarrel loves sin.
I think we could all benefit by evaluating how well, or poorly, we do with 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” Which do you find yourself more interested in – understanding others or speaking your mind? One little note on covering offenses – I am sure this is not referring to ignoring immoral sins. We know that unrepentant sin leads to death and it is not loving to ignore that. Galatians 6:1 has some wise advice in that case, as well as Proverbs 28:23 and Matthew 18. No doubt, it takes much wisdom to know how to proceed in various situations. Good thing God gives wisdom (James 1:5) and thank goodness we have the book of Proverbs to help us grow our wisdom.
A few more Proverbs that are just too good to not mention briefly . . .
On Zeal – typically considered a good thing – however . . . “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (19:2) Can you think of a project you may have jumped into . . . and then realized you should have done more “homework” first? What about those facebook posts we have all seen where a very zealous person is on a rampage because of the latest outrage . . . only to have a friend point out the errors in their information (thank you, snopes). Very zealous, but not very helpful without the true knowledge – and God’s Word is even more reliable than snopes.
On Disciplining Children/Youth – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (19:18). No one likes to be disciplined – and the parent doing the discipline isn’t too thrilled either. However, discipline sure beats death. As a parent I need to remember that I do NOT make their life better by being their best friend and making things easy for both of us. I make their life better by firmly and lovingly teaching rules, consequences, boundaries, how to listen and follow directions. By teaching our children how to obey their parents we are also teaching them how to obey God and that is the most important lesson, that leads to life not death. So teens out there reading, next time you are disciplined by your parents, surprise them – give them a giant hug and a great big thank you for saving you from death. Then, watch them faint!
What would our relationships and family look like if we lived out all of these wonderful Proverbs everyday? Keep praying for wisdom and working at the lessons learned in Proverbs. They bring life – and who couldn’t use more of that.