Most of us are familiar with the children's rhyme— "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." And most of us realize this is more wishful thinking than reality. Words can hurt, cutting deep into our psyche and burrowing into our heart.
Sometimes we say things we don't mean to say—at least out loud. At other times, we can't seem to find the right words to say. We don't need to find a balance between the two, we need to find a better way.
A stubborn fool considers his own way the right one, but a person who listens to advice is wise. When a stubborn fool is irritated, he shows it immediately, but a sensible person hides the insult. [vss 15-16]
A truthful witness speaks honestly, but a lying witness speaks deceitfully. Careless words stab like a sword, but the words of wise people bring healing. The word of truth lasts forever, but lies last only a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who plan evil, but joy belongs to those who advise peace. [vss 17-20]
No [lasting] harm comes to a righteous person, but wicked people have lots of trouble. Lips that lie are disgusting to the Lord, but honest people are his delight. A sensible person [discreetly] hides knowledge, but foolish minds preach stupidity. [vss 21-23]
(Proverbs 12:15-23 GW) [Context– Proverbs 12]
Careless words stab like a sword, but the words of wise people bring healing.
- What is the difference between the stubborn and sensible persons in how they handle their opinions and emotions?
- How is the effect of spoken words contrasted? How can words be used in a good way? How do they become damaging?
- What character traits are associated with lies and deceit? What are honest and sensible people known for with their words?
I've been wounded by the words of others, but more often than not, I'm the one who wounds. It's easy to see how others are at fault with their words, but we don't always see it in ourselves. How is it possible for this to change?
Listening has become a lost virtue. It's easier to talk than to listen. Easier to insist on our view or version of something, than consider the other person's point of view. When truth becomes relative, and self rules, ruin is not far away.
Make it personal...
Do you find it hard to listen without interrupting someone?
Are there times when it seems more convenient or expedient to withhold the truth or suppress it, than hold to it?
Are you willing to trust God to guard your heart and character rather than defend yourself?
What are some ways you could speak encouraging and kind things to people you know?