Apples of Gold, Part 1
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
— Proverbs 25:11
“Your back side is as broad as the side of a barn,” said a mother to her daughter as the teen modeled her new jeans.
“God needed your son in heaven more than you need him here.” Life-taking words?
“Did you hear about… I can’t believe she behaved like that…” Life-taking words?
Words have the power to hurt or to heal. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we talk. Words reveal our hearts (Matthew 12:34-37). The writer of Proverbs reminds us when words are many, transgression or sin is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19). I shudder to think of the many words I have spoken that did nothing to cultivate life, but rather snuffed out life. Granted, we sometimes speak without thinking, with no agenda to hurt another, but the Scriptures remind us we need a guard on our mouth, because our words reflect the condition of our hearts. That guard is our filter through which we learn to take time to quickly pray… “Lord, guide my words so they are life-giving rather than life-taking.”
Taking a step back before speaking requires thoughtfulness. Recognizing my words are sometimes not just thoughtless but sinful, leads me to repentance that includes a commitment to surrender to the “guard at my mouth”, to determine if they are words that hurt or words that heal. Words have power! It’s so much easier for me to blame a thoughtless heart rather than a sinful heart.
Acknowledging hurtful words as sin (life-taking) leads me to repentance. Repentance includes putting off the sinful life-taking words and learning how to put on life-giving words.
The Psalmist’s struggle with his mouth encourages me:
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
— Psalm 141:3 ESV
What is the guard at his mouth that the Psalmist requests? Intimacy with Jesus is the best filter. Do you want your words to be like “apples of gold in a setting of silver?” Reaching this goal requires cultivating a humble God-centered attitude in your heart. Instead of adding this task to your to-do-list, recognize intimacy with Jesus, not a to-do-list, transforms our hearts. Be intentional about asking the Lord to open your eyes to attitudes that spill out in words that hurt rather than heal. No doubt we will still blunder and say things we wish we could pull back. That’s where the beauty of the Gospel transforms us through repentance and a renewed commitment to surrender to the “guard at our mouth.”
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
The Psalmist prays for a guard over his mouth. God’s answer to this request is for us to spend time with Jesus through prayer and reading His Word, asking Him to prepare us for those opportunities to speak healing, life-giving words. Listen and consider carefully the needs of the person in front of you. Will your words build up or tear down? Read Philippians 4:8-9 and ask how you are reflecting each quality in life-giving speech:
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Lord, like the Psalmist we ask for a guard at our mouth, yet like the Psalmist we will struggle to submit to that guard. Transform our hearts with a renewed appreciation for Your grace and the supernatural love and presence of Jesus in our hearts. Use Your Word to grow our faith in Your power to transform us into people who resemble Your precious Son.