Proverbs, living wisely in the things that really matter. The first in a series. Proverbs 17-18 has so much meat, so much content, we’ll work through it in several lessons. This will be broken out into 3 areas: Wise words, attitudes and relationships . Today, wise words. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit. Proverbs consists of general principles about how we should live, how we should act. There is a lot said about the importance of our words. 4 thoughts this morning:
1. Learn restraint, 17:27. This applies to everyone, from the youngest among us to the oldest. Restraint involves limiting our words to what is needed. If you’re a talker, you’ll have to work at this, at not being dominant. Choose your words carefully. Restraint is a measured response. It is not blurting things out, whatever comes to our mind. This is the opposite of letting emotions drive us. Everything on my mind does not have to come out. When we restrain our words, it allows us to hear better. Slowing down will help, being careful about our reactions.
2. Practice silence, 17:28. It’s okay to be silent. Even a fool looks much smarter when they don’t talk. That’s hard to do sometimes. We want to give our opinion. Sometimes we have to speak up, like dealing with sin, or defiance in our children. But other times, it’s just better not to respond at all. Ask yourself if you’re comfortable with silence. This is a learned behavior and can be really powerful. Sometimes staying out of a conversation is just as powerful as saying something, or even more so.
3. Fashion your words. 18:6-7, 21; 15:1. If you teach or have preached, you know this. A lot of time is spent on the words you will use. If we need to approach someone about something, we need to plan what we are going to say, think it through. We can do a lot of damage by saying the wrong thing, not having given our words proper thought. Think about the things you say publicly, on social media for example, and the negative implications that can have in your life as others read them.
4. Encourage examination. 18:17. Sometimes someone we trust and respect is honestly mistaken. Other times, people are just evil. We need to examine other's words, be careful about the judgments we make about people if we haven’t carefully examined the situation. People mix opinion with facts. If it really matters, than it will really matter to take the time to examine what has been said.
Almost always, when approached by someone who has an issue with something you’ve said, is the reception of that information received well. Typically, people have some issue with how they were approached. So think about that next time you are approached. Practice restraint and silence and measure your response.