Pastor Edward Brouwer 9-2-18 Wisdom’s Way: Our Words Proverbs 10:1-11
Wisdom’s Way: Our Words
There’s an old story, told in different ways about a young man who had trouble with his tongue. He loved to pass along juicy bits of gossip about others. One day he heard a particularly salacious bit about a businessman in the community and could not help himself. This word of course got spread around by those he told it to and people stopped doing business with this man. That man tried to get to the source of the rumor and discovered it was a fellow member of his own church. “I am ruined and deeply hurt,” he said to himself. He went to his pastor and shared what had happened. In turn the pastor called the young man with loose lips and talked to him about it. The story was hearsay he explained and it was wrong of the young man to dabble in untruth. Seeing the error of his ways, the young man realized his gravity of his wrongdoing and asked how could he fix it. Seeking to instruct the young man, the pastor said “Do these things: go to the businessman and confess, and next take this feather pillow and cast the feathers about in the street and then come see me in again tomorrow. The young man did so but was a little perplexed about the pillow exercise. The next day he returned. Then the pastor said “now go and collect all the feathers—every last one of them”. “But that’s impossible” he replied, “they are blown to the wind, even if I could gather most I would not be able to get all of them”. “Precisely”, and so it is with your words: “once they escape your mouth they can not be retrieved without much effort”. Today we are looking at Wisdom’s Way: Our Words. Scripture counsels us to be quick to listen and slow to speak because our words have the power of life and death.
Read Proverbs 10:1-11
Today I want us to consider the ABC’s of our words. Proverbs has so much to say about wisdom as it relates to our words. Proverbs 10:11 sums up beautifully with this bottom line: the lips of the righteous are a fountain of life. The ABC’s of words are: A is for Abundance because as Jesus said, “out of the abundance of our hearts, so speaketh the mouth”. (Luke 6:45). B is for Blessing because we are to use our words to bless the Lord and bless others by building them up. And C is for Christ because He is the Word of God that speaks life and grace into our lives such that we are able to live for God.
Have your words ever got you sideways with another person? We can all recount times when this has happened, maybe even this morning on the way to church! Why is that? Because we speak what is in our hearts. It’s really a heart problem. Our impatience, our selfishness and our anger too quickly flow to the tip of our tongues. But as Christians aren’t we new creations? How can a new heart still struggle with old ways? Yes, our old self has been dealt a death blow on the cross in Christ Jesus but the “flesh” (old self) can either grow or wither. We do get to choose! The Spirit enables us to put to the death the misdeeds of the flesh. Romans 8:12-13 says we have no obligation anymore to the flesh but through the Spirit you can put to death the old “you”. What does that look like? Someone described it this way: A pet owner had two dogs who always fought. Someone asked “which one usually wins?” To which he replied “the one I feed and exercise the most”. You nurture and feed your new nature when you heed the Spirit, spend time in prayer and the Word. Or when you fellowship with God’s people. Train yourself through spiritual discipline to say no to the old you, the old “dog”: no I will not drink to excess, no I will not view that unwholesome material, but rather fill your heart with the things Paul suggests in Philippians 4:8 “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy–dwell on these things.”
James also, challenges us in the area of the words that come out of our mouths as witness to the new reality of our lives: in James 3:11,12 he says “how is it that in one moment we praise God with our lips and the next we curse someone who is created in God’s image?!” From the same mouth come blessings and curses–fellow believers it should not be so! How can a fresh water spring also bubble up with salty water?” (Do you see salty words erupting from your mouth sometimes? When they do you understand the truth that even as a Christian you still must learn to control your tongue).
Jesus said in Luke 6:43-45, essentially what Solomon says here in verse 11 (the lips of the righteous become a fountain of life) that a good person brings forth the good treasure that is in their heart (and the evil brings evil treasure) for out of the abundance of the heart so speaketh the mouth. Jesus immediately clarifies the basis of good and evil people, in relationship to Him—He is that abundance! The good person builds their house wisely on the rock of Jesus Christ. The one that is “good” hears and obeys Christ’s voice. And Paul follows on this theme in Colossians 2:6-7 where he writes, “Therefore just as you have received Christ Jesus, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up strengthened in faith, overflowing with gratitude. The ABC”s of our words starts with A for abundance….and move to B for blessing.
When our hearts are filled with the abundance of Christ then what comes out is blessing. I will bless the Lord with all my heart, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1) Bless the Lord o my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name. Psalm 111, our call to worship puts it this way: “Praise ye the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart—I will declare it in the congregation! In the assembly of the righteous!” Praise for God befits the people of God. We do it here at church and we do it at home. We are called to declare the praises of our God because we are his people, a royal priesthood and holy nation! (1 Peter 2:9)
And as Christians our blessing overflows to God AND to those created in God’s image—to everyone! To our spouse and to our children, to our coworkers and the person at the grocery checkout! Use your words to build up! Use them to bless. And not simply out of enlightened self-interest. Bless because your words have the power of life! Power to encourage, to uplift, to speak hope. You and I are the mouthpiece of Christ in this world. Speak Jesus into every situation. Here is an application: choose your words intentionally and carefully. Think about the power to bless and use it. Speak blessing over your children and your co-workers and your spouse. That can be hard sometimes when you are angry or frustrated or hurt. My mom used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all”. If you have trouble with your tongue, then perhaps you need to have a “time-out”. I have taken time in my life to “fast” from words. Go a whole hour without speaking. Train yourself by going on a silence retreat for example. But no amount of training will help if you don’t have Christ. A is for abundance, B is for blessing and C is for Christ.
Jesus Christ is the gracious Word that has come to us. He has spoken the definitive word of grace and hope and blessing into our lives. We can only speak of what we know and experience. Jesus, God in the flesh, deity incarnate, has spoken over us! He has spoken life and health and peace! Are you discouraged about your words? Are you wondering if your tongue will ever be controlled? Take the truth from Hebrews 6:17-19. God has spoken over you! His promises are sure and true in Christ—he has guaranteed his love for us with an oath that, just like his character, is unchanging. In Christ he has promised to make us right with God and begin a new work in us that he will bring to completion. “We have this sure and steadfast anchor for our soul, which is firm, and secure”! (19) Cling to Jesus, repent when you sin with your words, and for every one look you take at yourself, take 10 looks at Jesus. He will transform you, run to him, never tire of holding fast to him, don’t despair. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He gives himself to us, fully and completely, enabling us to die to self that we can live to him. In this table Jesus brings home that truth–that he died and He lives. And so too, in Him, we have died but can yet say “the life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).