Proverbs 12d

Words Cut Like A Knife.

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” ­– Proverbs 12:18 NLT

For years I have joked that I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm. Yes, it’s a lame joke and really bad theology. But I don’t mean any harm by it. It’s just a silly way of admitting that I sometimes struggle with sarcasm and would love to find a way to justify its existence in my life. I have often thought that the apostle Paul had the same gift, but he also had wisdom and tact. If he used sarcasm at all, it was always in an attempt to convey truth and bring about heart change in the people to whom he was speaking. The verse above juxtaposes the cutting, sarcastic words of some with the healing words of the wise person. They are cutting because they’re thoughtless. They are spoken rashly and recklessly, without any consideration as to their ultimate impact. The use of sarcasm is rarely, if ever, for constructive purposes. It is meant to tear down, not build up. While it may be disguised as humor, it is usually tainted with a hint of animosity. But the words of the wise are used for healing. They are intended to build up, restore, refresh and encourage. This does not mean that the wise person never says anything that is difficult to hear or hard to accept. In the very next verse, we read, “Truthful words stand the test of time.” The key is “truthful.” We must speak truth to one another, lovingly and boldly. Speaking the truth can sometimes be painful. Words that heal can be words that expose sin, refute lies, demand change, and confront hypocrisy in our lives. Our goal is healing. Our intentions are for good, not evil. We are not attempting to tear someone else down in order to build ourselves up.

What do wise words look like?
1.  They’re timely
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! – Proverbs 15:23 NLT

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. – Proverbs 25:11 NLT

2.  They’re encouraging and enjoyable
Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – Proverbs 16:24 NLT

The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive. – Proverbs 16:21 NLT

Gentle words are a tree of life… – Proverbs 15:4 NLT

3.  They find the good in others
Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth – a stranger, not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2 NLT

It’s not good to eat too much honey, and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself. – Proverbs 25:27 NLT

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – Philippians 2:3-4 NLT

4.  They’re sometimes reproving
To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry. – Proverbs 25:12 NLT

In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. – Proverbs 28:23 NLT

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live…Get rid of all bitterness, anger, harsh words, and rage, slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. –  Ephesians 4:29-32 NLT

Father, our words carry a lot of weight and can make a huge impact on the lives of others. Help me to listen more and talk less. Give me the wisdom to think before I speak and when I do speak, to consider my words carefully.  Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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