April 16, 2021 | Proverbs: Speech
Dear Redeemer Friends,
I cried all the way to the barn. I was in 4th grade. I was on a trip with my family in Canada and we had paid money for a trail ride. Maybe I should have read the Bible beforehand as James writes, “3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well…”
See there was a “bit” in my horse’s mouth. And yes, I was holding the reins to that bit. Yet, I did not fully understand that I was the one in charge of directing the giant beast on which I rode. I would have probably done the same thing if I was the horse. My horse decided that he was done with the trail ride and wanted to return to his cozy barn. He turned with me on his back, trotting and cantering happily back to his home, coming to a halt at the doors of the barn. All the way to the barn (or our unknown destination from my perspective) the tears flowed from my eyes as I held the reins limply not understanding the power I had.
So why is James writing to these early believers about horses? James goes on to write, “7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue.” Well certainly I struggled to tame even a tameable creature, so what hope do I have for taming this thing called “the tongue”? I think that’s why when I see all these proverbs (below) about speech and the tongue, I feel like I did with our trail ride. These scriptures look like a good idea if you can control your tongue (or horse)! How do we even begin to tame the untamable?
If thoughtful speech is wise as the proverbs below suggest, then taming the tongue has to have something to do with “fearing” the Lord- which we learned was the beginning of wisdom. The bottom line-the more we are in “awe” of the Lord- dwelling, enjoying, receiving His love and grace- the more we will reflect Him in our speech.
Certainly the specifics of the proverbs below could speak to the unique situations that we may find ourselves in our daily life. Read through them slowly – even aloud. Maybe read through them aloud with your family this week. Ask God to reveal where you could grow to reflect His wisdom more in your speech for, “20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” There is blessing for us and our world as we lean into Him with our words. We have been given power, “21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” and there is responsibility with that power to use it for good and God’s Kingdom.
Yet, just like me on the horse, we struggle to have control over our words. Sometimes we struggle to speak words of forgiveness and life and sometimes it’s a struggle not to speak words of hate or anger. Either way, God knows this reality. James continues to write, ““22 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” There is only one who did not stumble. He is the perfect man. And it is in Him, Christ, that we rest as we struggle to use our power for good and life. We have been given the mind of Christ. We can choose to speak life! Continue to receive His forgiveness and grace, again and again, standing in awe of this perfect “One”. Let’s worship this perfect One who gives us life together this Sunday.
Jen Sanders, RPC Director of Care and Connection
Proverbs 12:13-15, 17-19, 22-25
13 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble.
14 From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.
15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.
25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 16:20-21, 24
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 18:4, 6-8, 20-21
4The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
6 A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.