“Be humble and gentle in your conversation; and of few words, I charge you; but always pertinent when you speak.” (William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania).
It is very easy to squeeze the toothpaste from a tube but impossible to put it back. The same can be said for words, so easily spoken but they can be devastating in their effect and once said, cannot be withdrawn. Words. Do we fully understand their power? Can any of us really grasp the mighty force behind the things we say? Do we stop and think before we speak, considering the potency of the phrases we utter?
Over the centuries there have been many great men and women gifted with words. Famous poets and storytellers, leaders like Sir Winston Churchill who inspired a nation at its darkest hour; generals who have led their armies into battle and changed defeat into victory. These are the words that history has recorded, but is the world now deaf to the words of God? Are the troubles that the world is now facing caused by a failure to heed the words of God? The Book ofExodus, chapter 20, verses 1 to 21 is a summary and climax of God’s covenant with his people and sets out basic ethical standards applicable to mankind in all ages, not just in biblical times.
The first four commandments concern our relationship to God, the remaining six our relationship with one another. They show God’s concern for whole of life. He sets out standards governing family relationships, regard for human life, sex, property, speech and thought. God made us: He alone can show us how we are designed to behave. Jesus reminds us of this, the greatest commandment, when answering one of the Pharisees (Matthew 22:34-40) by giving a two-clause summary of the law.
The Book of Proverbs is concerned with words and instruction. It applies the principles of God’s teaching to the whole of life, to relationships, home, work, justice, decisions, attitudes, reactions, everything to do and think, and particularly what we say. Proverbs places tremendous stress on the power of words and speech, for good and for ill. What we say, and how we react to what others say – advice, or rebuke, or gossip, or tempting suggestions – betrays what we are (SeeMatthew 12:34-37). The tongue is an incalculable force: it takes a wise person to master it. “Words–so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!” (Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804–1864).
So what have we learned from the word of God? Firstly, we must familiarise ourselves with God’s word, it is God’s teaching on how we should behave. Second, we must be careful how we use words – to uplift, not discourage; to praise not criticize; to be careful of our language; to avoid gossip, and to tell the truth, for God is the silent listener to every conversation. Important advice for this next new year of 2020.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9,10 BSB).
Have a good week,
This is one of a series of weekly messages of encouragement, now in its twenty-fif th year, originating from Gympie, Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia. A companion Bible study page is available each week. To subscribe via email send to email@example.com with the words ‘Subscribe Word (or) Subscribe Word & Study’. Our ministry is free and emailing lists are confidential. Tell a friend or why not put a note in your church newsletter or pew sheet about this ministry – we welcome new subscriptions.
Pastor Ron Clarke OAM
Word for the Week
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