Words. They are such powerful things. Proverbs is full of wisdom and guidance for using our words effectively. Take this verse, for example.
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright will deliver them. Proverbs 12:6
If we are children of God, purchased by the blood of Christ, then we count among the upright. And, according to this proverb, while the words of the wicked work their evil, our mouths will deliver us because we are counted among the upright. In a world where hostility toward Christians has been a guarantee for two thousand years, the thought of our mouths bringing deliverance is a mighty promise.
But, the thing about proverbs of any sort, whether they be Biblical or otherwise, is that they are not prophecies or guarantees. They are more like powerful motivational statements, encouraging mankind to follow a right path. So, where does that leave us, especially in regards to verses such as Proverbs 12:6?
When we speak, our words will have an impact. Throughout Proverbs we see verses bemoaning the negative effect of foolish words and praising the positive effects of wise words. Unfortunately, Christians are becoming far too infamous for the foolish words we speak. There are so many things in our world that need to be spoken about and against. But, instead of prayerfully considering our responses, we spout off the first thoughts that come to our minds. They might be true words, but that doesn’t automatically make them wise or effective. As we blurt out antagonisms and air our frustrations, we do not see our own deliverance. Instead, we see tensions increase.
Our lack of words has an impact as well. Many of us have been frustrated and embarrassed by the foolishness pouring forth from the mouths of our Christian brothers and sisters. Desiring to not follow in their footsteps, though, we make the opposite mistake. We say nothing at all. And in our silence, we neglect to have the liberating impact that we could have with wise words.
But, the key to keep in mind here is that the Proverbs 12:6 says “the mouth of the upright will deliver them.” Sometimes that mouth must open and speak. But, sometimes it must also remain silent. Our silence can be just as liberating as our words if it comes from a heart of wisdom.
The power of our mouths is tied up in the overall message of Proverbs: the quest for wisdom, wisdom that can only come from the Holy Spirit. This week, may we seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that He may show us when to close our mouths against the foolish, refuse to close our mouths when wisdom should be shared, and keep silent when it is prudent. In doing so, may we discover true deliverance from the sin of this world and in the process draw many others from the pit of that sin and into the ranks of the upright.