According to Webster’s dictionary the word proverb means, “a brief popular epigram, adage,” or “a short saying that is widely used to express an obvious truth.” Often a proverb indicates a positive action necessary on the part of the reader. Even when you break down the word proverb into its two parts you see the smaller words pro (positive) and verb (action) within. In essence, a proverb is positivity moving forward!
I recall a time when a proverb from the Bible, one read many times before, struck me in a new way! Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” I was walking through a particularly difficult time at work, feeling the weight and pressure of deadlines, financial upheaval and staffing dynamics. There were days all I wanted to do was turtle from my responsibilities and take as many days off as was allowed. There were also days where I was ready to approach every situation and interaction with fire, fury and an unparalleled ferocity. I must admit that there were days where my words matched the latter.
Thankfully, through his incredible grace, God brought this verse along my path and by His Spirit it pierced my heart and filled my mind. I was reminded that words have incredible power over situations and over people. The Lord showed me again that there are words of life and words of death; that words spoken carelessly or negatively can seriously damage the work God wants to do in others and definitely wreak havoc in my own life. He showed me that my ability to verbalize is a God given privilege, because I am made in His image, and one I should protect and use responsibly. That I must be careful when, if and how I wield my tongue. That I must begin to speak the name of Jesus over every broken part of my workplace so that life and healing can take place.
Daughters, it is so easy for us to bend to the world’s standard of quick-witted retorts, petty insults, hurtful accusations and slanderous gossip, in an effort to relieve our feelings of frustration and of being wronged. The world feeds us a steady diet of revenge and retaliation, of standing up for our rights and making others pay. We are conditioned to take action and deal quickly with situations, to speak our minds freely and pat our self-esteem.
However, God shows us a very different path of communication with others. In James 1:19 we see that God wants us to be, “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Much easier said than done, but an action we must all adhere to for peace and life to abound in any and every situation. We must engage the Holy Spirit in helping us to achieve this, sometimes each and every moment of the day!
We can simply pray, “Holy Spirit, help me,” before answering a feared phone call, or interacting with a particularly toxic co-worker, or entering a heated meeting, or facing a financial partner. Whatever we face, at home, work or play, we can enlist the help of the Almighty God, through His Spirit, to effectively communicate words of life everywhere we find ourselves. Our words will no longer pierce, but heal! These are split second prayers, but they keep us in touch with God’s presence, and are powerful against our flesh and the enemy!
I have learned that as I positively act to change my speech patterns, bringing them in line with the Spirit of God, I find greater joy in life and can confidently handle all that life throws my way. My hope is this encourages you to do the same. I will leave you with this one final verse, Ephesians 4:29.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”