Words--part 2

Uncategorized Mar 30, 2019

I was recently in a group of women wrestling with the wisdom of Proverbs as regards to words and relationships. We were tackling two proverbs in particular:


“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov. 12:18) and “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6)

Sound a little contradictory? One young woman asked an obvious question: “If our words are not well received, is it the fault of the speaker or is the problem the listener?” And the answer is, “Yes.”


One of the things about God’s wisdom is that it is very rarely about outcomes, but about the state of our souls. Proverbs aren’t rules for living or promises…they are wise sayings about how “God’s world still ‘runs with a certain reliability’” (Tim Keller quoting Derek Kidner) …except when it doesn’t, due to the world’s brokenness and our own.


Therefore our thought-bridges can hit roadblocks; and the roadblocks might be of our own making, or they might be in the listener’s ears (or both!) The one thing we know that we can’t control is how someone hears us. So let’s focus on what we can control, what we are admonished to control…our own part in the equation.


What can we do to control our tongues? First of all, we need to do a lot of interior work. We speak from what we think and what is stored up in our hearts. Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”   (Luke 6:45) What Jesus wanted us to see is that each one of us is a little bit of both. We have self-less love and self-centeredness all wrapped up in the same package. It is through ruthless and non-traumatic self-examination that we untangle which of our words are designed to show our superiorty and which are designed as a love gift to someone else. Theologian William Barclay wrote: “Many people are so concerned with their own feelings that…when they are sorry for someone, it is, as it were, from the outside; they do not make the deliberate effort to get inside the person’s mind and heart, until they see and feel things as he sees and feels them. If we did make this deliberate attempt…it would save us being kind in the wrong way.” Not to mention being purposely harsh!


If our words are to penetrate, they will be thoughtful, beautiful, well-timed, and economical. I can’t hope to do that all the time on my own. But the more I edit my words, the more His words bleed through mine. And the most beautiful words He ever spoke are “Father forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”


So on the cross He’s already handled the outcome of my words. What a relief!