What better place to start this journey than a Proverb? So Proverbs 15:1-4 it will be- “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
How often do our mouths get us in trouble? We often say things and immediately, sometimes even as the words are coming out of our mouths, we regret voicing those words. I know I do. The first verse in this passage tells us to respond to people gently, even if they approach us harshly. That’s tough. I mean it’s natural to want to fire back with anger when someone makes a comment you don’t like. However, the Bible instructs us to do the opposite of human instinct because human instinct is led by the sin nature in us all. So instead of responding with anger, we are to respond with kindness and gentleness. That way we can avoid unnecessary arguments that would result from responding in anger.
The second verse contrasts the wise with the foolish and how they use their tongues. Notice the verb usage in this verse, “the wise useth” but “fools poureth”. Wise people think before they speak. They knowledgable assess the situation and effective use their words if needed– sometimes opting not to say anything is the wisest response. Contrarily, fools respond in an instant before taking the time to think about the consequences their words could have. It goes back to the first verse. Fools respond to anger with anger, but wise people respond to anger with soft, gentle words. If someone responds harshly to those soft words, well that’s on them and they will be the ones left feeling guilty for their actions.
Now for the third and fourth verses in this passage. Notice first those words written in italics, “are” and “is”. I didn’t add that emphasis, I typed it exactly as it is in Granny’s Bible. Those are present tense verbs and I believe they were written in italics to emphasize that important fact. It’s not “the eyes of the Lord were” but it is “the eyes of the Lord are in every place”, meaning yesterday, today, and tomorrow the Lord sees all. Likewise, “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” and this holds true yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If words of kindness, truth, and love proceed from your mouth then you will be like a tree of life, growing and bearing much fruit. On the contrary, separation from the Lord results from negative and obstructive words.
That old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a false claim. Words can hurt, and that hurt can last and last. We can’t take them back once we say them. We can apologize and seek forgiveness, but the damage is already done. So let’s keep these verses close to our hearts and start to use our words wisely. Pray for wisdom and the ability to control your words. Use words to build up and not to tear down. And lastly, think before you speak.