Words are powerful. They are a reflection of who we are. They determine how we will enjoy and reflect life. We use thousands of words every day. How carefully do we pick those words? The Book of Proverbs gives us insight.
Oftentimes we speak before we think. Proverbs 13:3 says, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick reply can ruin everything.” When someone says something, do we think before we speak?
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” In any situation we have the option of either dispelling a volatile situation or adding fuel to the fire to make it worse. The words we use have an effect on the situation. Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” It is a choice that we make.
We must trust God in giving good answers. Proverbs 16:1 says, “We can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer.” It goes on to say in Proverbs 16:24, “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I love honey and put it in my coffee every day. Someone told me years ago that it was healthy. I now realize that kind words are even healthier than honey!
It is always easy to repeat something without knowing if it is actually true. This usually has a bad outcome. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife – gossip separates the best of friends.” How we respond in situations either makes the situation better or can become gossip which is destructive.
Oftentimes people offer words of wisdom which come in the form of constructive criticism. Proverbs indicates that wise people listen to criticism and respond appropriately. Proverbs 13:18 says, “If you ignore criticism you will end in poverty and disgrace. If you accept criticism you will be honored.” Proverbs 15:5 says, “Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline. Whoever learns from correction is wise.” Proverbs 15:21, 22 remind us, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you will only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction you grow in understanding.”
We act and talk like the people with whom we associate. I have a Southern accent because I have lived in the South all my life. My accent reflects the language of people around me. When I was in school at Princeton, people would buy my lunch to hear me talk. In India I had several people ask if I was from Australia. They said I had an Australian accent. That is really strange!
We become like the people with whom we spend time. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise: whoever walks with fools will suffer harm. Trouble chases sinners while blessings chase the righteous.” We will be caught by something that is chasing us. It can either be trouble or blessings.
Proverbs 15:14 says, “A wise man is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.” Fishermen tell me some fish feed on trash on the bottom of a pond or a lake. They are referred to as “bottom feeders.” Because they feed on trash they are not worth eating. People are like fish – we either feed on truth or on trash. Our friends help feed us!
Hanging around good people can bring encouragement, good advice, and unexpected victories. Proverbs 15:22 said, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice: many counselors bring success.”
Wise words make winners!