"The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." Proverbs 15:2
One of our local car dealerships often has scripture verses on its billboard. This one has been on there for a few weeks now, and every time I read it, I have to pause and think about it. This morning for some reason I thought about that billboard upon waking, so here it is. When I look at a Proverb in particular, I like to look at it in several translations, because sometimes it sheds new light on what it has to say to me.
Here it is in Amplified:
"The tongue of the wise utters knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the [self-confident] fool pours out folly."
And I like the King James version too in this case:
The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
So the question today is are we wise and do we know how to use our tongue wisely? How many times have you had a conversation with someone that later on when you thought about it, you thought you said some dumb things? I sure know I have. Sometimes, those things come out because I feel like I HAVE to say something. Instead, I should just keep the foolish words to myself and look like the quiet type instead of the foolish type.
Here's the thing. When we follow the path of the foolish, just saying whatever comes to mind, we appear to be foolish to others- even when we may not be. Now what happens when that person has a serious matter that needs prayer? Or what happens when that person needs some spiritual counsel? Who are they going to talk to? Certainly not you - not even when you may be the best person for the job. You may have gone through exactly what that person is going through and can counsel them to help them get through, but in past conversations with them, your mouth runneth over with foolish sayings, and they don't believe that you truly have wisdom to offer.
Wisdom is holding your tongue in the first place.
There are other reasons to hold your tongue though- it isn't necessarily just to keep you from appearing foolish to others, the tongue is also one of the most important tools in our body.
"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death. Truly, it does. We should be using our tongues at all times to speak life into people, and not death. We should guard our tongues carefully against cursing someone, or calling them a name that makes them less than what they are. I'll give you a very real and very practical example.
How many people are walking around cursing our saying bad things about President Obama and the current administration? A whole lot. There's a whole lot of negative tongue talking, and the longer his presidency goes on, the worse things seem to be getting. What if all these naysayers and spreaders of negativity actually took the time to say positive things about him? Even the simplest things, and instead of cursing him or his administration, say a blessing over him and speak words of encouragement. Think of all those horrible political pundits on radio shows or TV talk shows whose only job is to criticize whatever the current president is doing. Those people should be banned from spreading their malicious words, because they are causing so much hurt. Every time the president hears someone say he is doing a bad job, his spirit takes that in. You can see it visibly- I think! When he was first elected, he had a stature and a demeanor to him that told me he had a chance at doing a decent job. All those negative words take a toll, and he just seems to have lost some of that spark.
We Christians especially, should be speaking life into our leaders and elected officials. We should be speaking life into our neighbors, our friends, our checkout clerk at the grocery store. The other day, Zander was struggling a bit with his subtraction problems for school. He knows his subtraction problems, so this baffled me a bit. He kept saying that he wasn't good at subtraction, and just all over had a deflated math day. The whole time I kept telling him that he is a smart boy, that he knows his subtraction facts and that he could do it. Well, the next day, we opened up his math book and found the subtraction to be much harder in content- subtracting double digits instead of the basic facts. I warned him that it might be a little tricky, but I thought he could do it. He gave me a crazy look and sat down and did every single problem with an attitude like he knew what he was doing and had done this a million times before.
Our words are powerful! And so many of us just don't realize that what we are saying can and will truly affect the person we are speaking with. If you only know me from this blog, you'd be surprised to learn that by nature, I am a fairly quiet person. I like to really take in what other people are saying, and I just find that many times I don't have much to say in return. But more so, lately, I've been trying to be more conscious of what my tongue says- and I think that makes me even quieter. If I can't say something nice, I don't say anything at all. And sometimes, that leads to complete silence. That's okay. I'd rather come across as a shy, quiet person than as the person who killed some one's dream or idea.
So let's take on a personal challenge this weekend to watch our words. Let's challenge ourselves to only speak life- and to keep the poisonous words out of our vocabulary in all things. And by all things, I mean not cursing the leaves all over the yard that need to be raked up. I mean not cursing the dog when they pee on your carpet. And not cursing your child when you have to repeat instructions to them 20 times before they seem to hear you. Let's watch our words, and see if we can make a difference.