There are more than 150 verses in Proverbs devoted to the tongue, speech & words.
That’s one out of every six verses.
Words also have power to manipulate public opinion and shape social policy.
Notice the change / difference:
- Today we rarely hear anyone speak of fornication. Instead they’re sexually liberated.
- People aren’t drug addicts; they’re chemically dependent.
- Homosexuals are now defined as same-sex attraction or alternative lifestyle.
- People don’t kill babies; they end a pregnancy.
- Men and women don’t commit adultery; they have an affair.
How we use and employ words make ALL the difference in the world.
Proverbs makes it clear that you will recognize a fool by his speech, just as you will recognize the wise person by his words.
Words Tell Us About a Person’s Character & Heart
- It all depends on what’s filling your heart.
- A critical heart produces a critical tongue.
- An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue.
- A self-righteous heart produces a judgmental tongue.
- A bitter heart produces a harsh, bitter, or unpleasant word.
- Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
“The Words You Speak Will All Depend on What’s Filling Your Heart.”
If We’re Not Careful, Words Can Be Destructive
- “By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them” Prov. 14:3.
- “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul” Prov. 18:6-7.
It’s Not That The Fool Deliberately Pursues His Own Destruction.
He’s So Reckless With Words He Invites His Own Rebuke With His Careless Speech.
- “Put away crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you” Prov. 4:24; 12:19.
- “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight” Prov. 12:22.
Proverbs Condemns Slander / Malicious Gossip
- “The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool” Prov. 10:18.
- “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” Prov. 11:13.
- “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler” Prov. 20:19.
Address Gossip / Slander
- Some people are gluttons for gossip. It’s called verbal bulimia.
- They eat everything they hear, then vomit it back up in destructive gossip.
- “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” Proverbs 26:20-21
- If you want to stop a fire, take away the fuel. When someone shares gossip or slander, interrupt it immediately.
- Challenge the gossiper to provide concrete evidence for what they’re saying. Provide proof or shut up.
Speech Proverbs Commend
Proverbs talks about calm, gentle, and pleasant dialogue.
- “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure” Prov. 15:26.
- “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” Prov. 16:24.
- “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” Prov. 15:1.
- “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” Prov. 15:4.
You will make more progress in persuading an opponent and have far greater success making your viewpoint known and accepted when you speak softly and gently. Harsh words rarely succeed in overcoming stubborn opposition.
John Calvin wrote:
- “When a man is running short on evidence, he raises his voice but the person who is confident of the truth is calm and gentle.”
Proverbs Commends Being Slow to Speak / Choosing the Appropriate Time
- “The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near” Prov. 10:14.
- By “laying up knowledge” he means someone who is not talkative and makes no show of what he knows.
- The tongue is governed by pride. The fool blurts out statements which do more harm than good.
- “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” Prov. 10:19.
- “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
- Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” Prov. 17:27-28.
- “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” Prov. 18:13.
WHEN We Speak Is Often As Important As WHAT We Say
Even the most priceless truths fall lifeless to the ground if spoken in haste and with harsh tone. Listen. Think. Weigh the circumstances. Ponder the consequences. A fool can hide his lack of knowledge by simply keeping his mouth shut.
Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said:
- “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let them think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
“Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”