My brother-in-law, Wayne, was a “people person.” He enjoyed being with people and making them laugh. People also enjoyed being with him too, because he always brought smiles and encouragement wherever he went.
Wayne also had some unusual habits. One was brushing his tongue repeatedly. During a conversation he would often say, “Excuse me, please” and walk away. After a few moments he would return and begin the conversation precisely where it had ended. People were puzzled and did not feel comfortable asking where he went or what he did.
Finally, the suspense got the best of one of his friends and he asked, “Wayne, why do you walk off in the middle of a conversation? Where do you go and what do you do?”
“Oh,” he replied with a smile. “I go to the bathroom and brush my tongue. The tongue, you know, has more germs than our teeth, and if not brushed carefully and repeatedly, can cause a stink.” But, the story of the “tongue” does not end there.
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit,” wrote Solomon. I am rather certain that each of us have experienced both parts of that verse. We all need words of encouragement and healing from hearts that are caring and kind. But, a deceitful tongue coupled with intent to harm others, does indeed “squeeze” the life from a person - often when a person’s “spirit” is threatened. We need to be “healers,” not harmers!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to speak words of hope, help and healing from hearts that are clean, kind and caring. May we bless others with the words of Your hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Proverbs 15 contains fifteen references to the “tongue.” Between two of the references, verses two and four, we come across another word that is important in the process of communication: “eyes.” Although we do not ordinarily think of the eyes as part of the communication process, but in this verse it is: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
One of the words we use to describe the nature of God is “omniscient.” It means that God is “all knowing, all wise, and all seeing.” Used in this verse, “the eyes of the Lord,” implies that God “sees” what we say. Scripture, very clearly and frequently, teaches us that “God knows everything.” His Word emphasizes this fact. So, we need not wonder if He can actually “see what we say.”
It is almost frightening to reflect on “keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Keeping watch made me think of the stories my brother and sisters often told me: “Be careful! Mom has eyes in the back of her head.” In other words, her face may be looking in one direction, but that does not mean she cannot see what is going on when she is not looking.
The author of Hebrews reminds us that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
We must never fool ourselves because we are His children and expect favors if we are disobedient to His Word. Everyone is accountable to Him for everything and anything!
Prayer: Lord, may we be mindful that You watch us closely and do our best to please You. Empower us to be obedient to Your Word and expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. Proverbs 15:3
“Try it! I promise you it will work,” said Mrs. Ron.
“No, it won’t. They’ll just yell louder and louder,” I responded with certainty.
“How do you know? Have you ever tried it? If you did try it, what happened? Did the shouting stop?” she asked.
“I don’t know because I’ve never had anyone tell me that before,” I replied as I gave up. I knew that she had an advantage over me from her years of experience as a teacher.
Her theory was simple and seemed senseless. “When children, either individually or in a group, raise their voices, if you speak in a hushed tone, they will quiet down. They want to hear what you are saying. Their curiosity will get the best of them,” she explained.
After thinking about it, I decided to follow her recommendation since nothing I tried had worked. To my surprise, it worked. And it does make sense, when you think about it.
Solomon may not have known much about anger management, but he gave some great advice when he wrote, “A soft gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We see that all too often when mobs gather to protest. Both sides believe they can gain the advantage with volume.
“A harsh word” does not suggest that a person is using words that are irrational or abrasive - though they may be part of the “conversation.” Rather, it refers to one who intends to use words to destroy another by design. We are once again reminded of the power of the tongue! Softness can represent power if we follow the Word and teachings of Scripture.
Prayer: Lord, how wonderful is Your Word that informs us of the power of our words. May we always speak gently and confidently as we follow Your teachings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
"Loose Lips Sink Ships" was a widely quoted slogan during World War II. It was part of the US Office of Information’s attempt to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies. It was one of the several slogans that came under the campaign’s basic message "Careless Talk Costs Lives.” While our talk may not “cost lives” careless words are costly, often harmful, and can cause serious problems.
Years ago, Solomon realized this and said, “Those who guard their lips guard their lives.” It is like placing a boundary around what we want people to know or think about us. Being careful is wise because we will not have to try to explain what we mean if we express an unclear thought or idea. We will not have to apologize or make amends or be fearful for things we might have said that could stain someone’s reputation if we speak unkindly. In fact, later in Proverbs, Solomon said that our “tongues have the power of life and death.”
There is also the person who “speaks rashly.” This person speaks without taking time to think or makes statements that are untrue, intending to hurt, harm, destroy, or take advantage of others. Many of us have endured - even struggled to survive - false stories or outright lies about us as others intended to damage or destroy us. We have been left fearful and unable to trust others because of their unfair words.
But we are to take heart. Our God is a fair and just God and He will, in His own time, make all things right. Those who “speak rashly will come to ruin.”
Prayer: Father, we are grateful that You love us, understand us, and know “who we are.” May we never harm others. May we bring them Your healing and hope, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3
We often hear of damage done by those who “speak before they think.” Their damage is harmful, “piercing like a sword,” leaving broken hearts, troubled minds and sleepless nights as a result. I know of no one who has not been damaged, in one way or another, by careless words from calloused hearts.
Unfortunately, for some, speaking harshly is a way of life. Kindness does not reside within them.
People who destroy others with their words are not new. Solomon recognized the pain they caused others when he wrote, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wide brings healing.”
“Reckless words” are words that come from resentful hearts and minds filled with evil thoughts. For whatever is in our hearts is there because we gave it a home. “Out of the abundance…” If it’s in there, we allow it to be there because we do not realize the damage it does to ourselves and others. And, it will remain there until we ask God, in humility and sincerity, to remove the rage.
And when He does, we can do great things for those hurt by the “reckless words” of others: we can bring them His healing. Imagine this wonderful opportunity that is available to us to take the healing grace of God to those who have been harmed by hatred and wounded by words.
“The tongue of the wise brings healing!” How? Heed what Paul said: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” – God’s love through us.
Prayer: From our own experience, Father, we know the pain of “reckless words.” Help us to realize the power of our words and use them to help and heal others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wide brings healing. Proverbs 12:18