Chapter 27 of Proverbs has lots to say about interacting with those around us. A main way that we impact the hearts and lives around us is through our speech. So let’s talk about the words that come out of our mouths (and ultimately, out of our hearts; Matt 15:18). Do we use our words for building up or for tearing down? Do we use them as weapons or as healing balm? Do they discourage or encourage those around us? There are important things to consider in deciphering whether or not our words will be well received. For instance, timing:
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.
Telling someone how incredibly thankful you are for them and that you want to bless them with a rousing rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings at 4 AM is not good timing. That person will not be blessed. They may be a little hostile towards you… You may need to run.
There are other times that are not suitable too. Like when someone is engrossed in something significant to them or when they are about to run out the door to their next appointment, those are not good times to start a conversation about the deep matters of life. Instead, try to find an appropriate time (with plenty of it) when that person is relaxed and in a good frame of mind…which may mean you’ll need to make an appointment.
Another thing to keep in mind when trying to use your words wisely, is whether or not being right is the most important thing. According to 1 Cor 13:1, if you speak your mind, but do not speak it in love, you are a “noisy gong.” That’s not a very pretty sound. You may win the argument but you lose the person in front of you. Is being right more important than loving your neighbor? Even if you are right and they are wrong, there are better ways to communicate than to be argumentative. Speaking the truth should always be done in love. Let’s not be like the quarrelsome wife in verses 15-16:
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.
She doesn’t sound like a fun person to live with. Instead, let’s be iron sharpeners like the person in verse 17.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
Our goal for our words should be to bless, uplift and help others love Jesus more. We can do this by making sure that our words are wholesome (Eph 4:29), seasoned with the salt of the Gospel (Col 4:6), and used to build others up by encouraging and challenging others to think well about the things of the Lord (2 Cor 10:4-5). If you are interested in more on this topic, a great resource is the book War of Words by Paul Tripp.