“Strife”, “malicious talk”, “mocks”, “excessive speech”, “bribe”, “gossip”, “crude messenger”, “dispute”, “deceitful speech”...
How much clearer can it be?
Before you wipe your brow and say “Phew! At least I’m not on THAT list!”, I dare you to read the whole 17th Chapter of Proverbs.
While it isn’t really a list, but a compilation of Solomon’s proverbs, as a writer I couldn’t help but wonder how many more proverbs he might have written, only to have God edit it, gleaning what was most important?
When I write, I often start with drafts and re-work them until I make sure they are ready to publish. I re-read what I’ve written and use spell-check to look for errors. (I have to interject here that I believe the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is true without any error!) I try to make sure that I have been faithful to the whole of the Bible and that what I say can be understood by anyone who reads–often making multiple changes before I actually post it.
One of the biggest struggles I have is making sure my posts aren’t too lengthy, knowing that the reader just might get bored and give up before they get to the end. I often think to myself, “Oh how much I could say!” Did Solomon (inspired by God) consolidate what needed to be said, and if so, why did he write so many proverbs about our words...
Maybe that’s why I love her story so much. She is a girl who has a lot of words, but has to learn to control them. Maybe that’s why God inspired Solomon to write this proverb. I do know that I’m not the only one who has been warned to think before we speak. Common sense says, “Your words, once said, can’t be taken back.” And once spoken, even an apology doesn’t erase the thought or heal the wound.
“The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning, when he seals his lips.” Proverbs 17:27-28
If you haven’t read it, go look at Proverbs 17 with an open heart. Let God reveal to you where your words need work. Living life with no regret doesn’t just pertain to our actions–it refers to the things we say–or neglect to say but should.
These proverbs have spoken very directly about the importance of our words. Are you being convicted about holding your tongue, or is it the opposite? Maybe you’ve been holding back. Maybe you need to ask someone to forgive you or tell someone that you love them. Words wield power. The power to build up or tear down. (Your idea of constructive criticism might not be from God!) I know that God’s word speaks because it speaks to me whenever I open my heart and mind to its truth, but I never want to assume that just because a thought is on my tongue means it’s right thinking. Only God’s word reveals truth, and it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict–not mine.
Hear my heart. God’s word can offend, but I don’t want to cause harm by my words. Even believers disagree about the interpretation of His Word, but we are always, always called to love. If our motivation is not love, then we are not choosing wisdom. Words should bring healing, not brokenness.