Text: Proverbs 25:11 August 25, 2013.
1) Trouble with words: In recent weeks and months, there were many shows of power struggle between the US Congress and the government about the use of word by government officials. From the initial talking points made by Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN on the death of US ambassador to Libya last September to recent troubles on IRS and FBI. If you had listened to some of the hearing process, you can see people tried very hard and careful to use their words properly to ask questions or to give answers. It is important for anyone of us when we use words to express opinion or just to talk to others.
2) Good advice on words: The importance of using words properly in not a modern day phenomenon. Thousands of years ago, the most revered man, King Solomon, had so much to say about the need of using proper words. When he advised us to use words ¡°aptly¡±, he meant it s ¡°properly, appropriately and properly.¡± He said, ¡°A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.¡± (Prov. 25:11) He used the picture of golden apples in the setting of a silver plate to show us how beautiful it is when we use our words properly. It is not about if we can say anything, but is about how we say those things. Most of us, if not all, have painful experience or embarrassing moments when we didn¡¯t use words properly.
USING WORDS WITH PROPER MOTIVE:
1) Love rules all words: ¡°Instead, speak the truth in love we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, the Christ.¡± (Eph. 4:15) God wants us to have the proper motive when we talk about others and that motive is love. When we say thing about others, we need to ask ourselves this question: why do I speak about him? Motive on the inside when we speak reflects the true nature of our spiritual condition as God¡¯s children.
2) Love covers all wrongs: ¡°Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.¡± (Prov. 10:12) God did not demand that we all have great talents in speech, Moses certainly did not have. God never punished Moses because he lacked speech skills. He punished Miriam, Moses¡¯ sister, who was good in words, but had wrong motive in using her speech skills.
USING WORDS OF PROPER CONTENTS:
1) Contents must be truthful: ¡°Speaking the truth in love.¡± (Eph. 4:15¡± ¡°In love¡± is about the motive, ¡°the truth¡± is about the contents. If we care much about motive when we speak, we also must care about the contents of our speech: be truthful. No matter if we talk about things or people, we must make sure it is ¡°the truth, all the truth, nothing but the truth.¡± To speak things that are not true is to lie and lying is a sin in the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:16)
2) Contents must not rumor: ¡°The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man¡¯s inmost parts.¡± (Prov. 26:22) People love to pass on words of rumors, gossips and hear-says because people love to hear those things like gourmet food. Passing words of comments, opinions of things you have no personal knowledge is gossiping that is vicious and deadly of character assassination. Unless you are very sure it is truthful, do not pass on stories you were told by others who had heard it from still others. Otherwise you are a gossiper.
USING WORDS TO PROPER PERSON:
1) Talk directly to the person: ¡°Better is open rebuke than hidden love.¡± (Prov. 27:5) If you have something to say or some comments to make, talk to the person who needs to hear. Don¡¯t talk to others things they don¡¯t need to know or hear. Don¡¯t try to make someone be your messenger because he may not completely understand your intent or purpose. He may forget the main points you try to make or worse he may twist your words to mean something completely opposite of your words or intention. Even if it is words of rebuke, still is better to talk to the person. Talking behind someone¡¯s back, even it is in good will, still is gossiping.
2) Talk with proper manner: ¡°Let your words be always full of grace like seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.¡± (Colossians 4:6) This is about the manner we present our words even it is a rebuke or correction: be gracious, respectful and full of love. We all want things done properly for the best results. So be polite and gentle when relating your comments, opinions or suggestions. Allow the other person to respond, explain or give his reason. Focus on the matter, not the person is a better way.
USING WORDS IN PROPER TIME AND PALCE:
1) Talk at the proper time: ¡°A man finds joy in giving a proper reply and how good is a timely word!¡± (Prov. 15:23) Many of us have done wrong in saying the right thing at the wrong time or place. Right timing is very important. If you have an opinion, a suggestion in a meeting, say it right there. Meeting is the best place and time to voice your suggestion, opinion or even objection. Holding them back and talk to unrelated people after the meeting doesn¡¯t serve any purpose.
2) Talking at a proper place: ¡°If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.¡± (Matt 18:15) Do not insult people in front of others, especially those you love and are close to you. There are things we need to say in the public, other things we can only say it in private. We all need to be wise to know the difference.
USING WORDS IN PROPER AMOUNT:
1) Conserving your words is wisdom: ¡°When words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.¡± We all have problem of talking too much and getting into troubles. Many people don¡¯t know how much they should talk. It is a normal phenomenon in talking too much and regrets it later. It is wise to think, organize then say what is needed. James advised us to listen more than to talk. (1:18)
2) Don¡¯t give unsolicited advice: ¡°A man of knowledge uses words with restrain, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps his silence and discerning if he holds his tongue.¡± (Prov. 17:27-28) ¡°Do not give unsolicited advice¡± is one of the 10 ¡°DON¡¯T¡± in my pastoral counseling class. When people are not ready to take advices and they don¡¯t ask for any, your volunteer advices may be seen as intrusion to their life and you become their enemy. What for in doing this?
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) It is about Christian testimony: Christian testimony demands we use words with proper motive, manner and wisdom. In most cases people can tell if we have proper attitude when we talk about things or others. From the words we use, the expression on our face and the tone of our voice, the points we try to make to judge us if we have the proper character of being God¡¯s representatives. So, be careful when you open your mouth.
2) It is being master of your words: Before words are spoken, you are their master and are in control. Once they are spoken, you have no control on where they may go, how people may respond, interpret or what they may use them to help or hurt you. Therefore, you need to think twice before you speak, read twice what you have written, then send out your email messages or letters. Reread this message again from time to time to make you a wise person of using words properly.