“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, and a babbling fool will come to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” (Proverbs 10:9–11)
Among the many pearls of wisdom in Proverbs are calls to remember that if the speech of a scoundrel is “like a scorching fire” (16:27), then “the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” These statements are often strikingly descriptive; for instance, wise words are compared to a gold ring or a precious jewel (25:12; 20:15). It’s a reminder to us that the power of the tongue is best employed to encourage, to affirm, to enrich, to reconcile, to forgive, to unite, and to bless.
Nearly every day, we’re confronted by unfair, unfriendly, unkind, and disagreeable people—and sadly, we’re often among them ourselves! The truth is that it takes far more self-control and awareness to respond to others in gentleness than it does to give way to unbridled passion and anger. But with God’s help, we can consciously extend the grace to them that Christ extends to us.
The power of the tongue is best employed to encourage, to affirm, to enrich, to reconcile, to forgive, to unite, and to bless
It’s easy for believers to hide behind empty jargon and pious platitudes as disguises for real, heartfelt devotion. But our God knows us inside and out. We’re never going to be able to masquerade the reality of our character before God, even if we use flowery words, “like the glaze covering an earthen vessel” (Prov. 26:23), to make people believe we’re on the right track. It’s so much better to be genuinely transparent about our struggles, continually pointing to the ways God saves and transforms us each day, so that others can be encouraged by His work in our lives and spurred on in their own walks with Christ.
Jesus reminds us that on the day of judgment, we will give an account for every careless word that we have spoken (Matt. 12:36). Though our words and our works in and of themselves achieve nothing for us before the gate of heaven, they are evidence that our profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is true. As people of God, may we always respond to those in our circles graciously, gently pointing them to Jesus through the words we speak.