15 May A Proverbs A Day // Proverbs 15
The 15th // Proverbs 15
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”–NOT Proverbs 15
This could not be more un-true. Our parents tell us this saying to help us navigate the bullying age, the times in our lives when people say mean things to us, hoping to get a reaction, hoping to cause pain and hoping to hurt us. While the saying I gives us momentary strength [and a clever response to our counterparts] it’s a terrible saying to live by… Words hurt. Badly.
Solomon talks bout the tongue and the power it has in chapter 15. Earlier he told us that our words were like swords–they could draw blood. In this chapter, he not only tells us the power our negative words have over someone, but how detrimental our bad words can be.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” –Proverbs 15:4
So often this has been true in my life. I am great at putting on a face that says “I don’t care.” Or “Those words don’t hurt!”, but to be honest, many times words have hurt me in ways I can’t describe. On the flip side, I’m saddened and honestly horrified to say that I KNOW I have been the perpetrator in this scenario. I can only imagine the lasting effects that my words have had on people.
Solomon tells us the power our mean words and quick responses out of anger have on people. He say that a harsh word stirs up anger [15:1], gushes folly [15:2] and crushes spirits [15:4] [15:13]. He also tells us that kind, uplifting words based on love can turn an evil person away [15:1] and can be a tree of life to someone [15:4]! They can spread the goodness of our God and push others towards greatness [15:7]! We hold incredible power in our words. Knowing that power and revering it its a part of seeking after God.
Chapter 15 doesn’t only address our words, it addresses the hearts behind them:
A happy heart makes a face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” –Proverbs 15:13
A person’s words are the easiest way to see into their heart. When people speak anger, resentment, judgement and strife, it’s typically a sing that their heart is hurting. On the other hand, when someone speaks love, understanding, patience and kindness, it’s typically a sign that their heart is full of love [notice I didn’t say joy.. I said love. Good things in life aren’t the firm pillar for kindness we think they are… The joy of the LORD is. Good things can come and go, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.(1 Timothy 1:7)]. Solomon tells us that it’s better to have a little, yet know the LORD, than to have a lot and not know Him [15:16]. He also says it’s better to serve a small portion of vegetables with love than to serve the finest meat with hate [15:17]! He says a happy heart always seeks God’s will [15:14] and those who have one stop and consider their options before answering [15:28].
I need to think before I speak. I need to be quick to spread joy and be slow to anger, slow to judge and slow to insert my opinion. LORD, help me to remember that my tongue is powerful and that I can use it to share love and to be a picture of you, but I also have to power to tear down, harm and crush spirits. LORD, help me to take this power wisely and make use of it as you intended. On the flip side, help me to remember that those who use their words against me share with me their hearts. Instead of allowing their words to hurt, help me to put them first and to love them more than I have been.