A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The eyes of the LORD are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools. – Proverbs 15:1-7 (ESV)
What kind of world do you want to live in? Is there anything that you can do to move your world to be more like that world? Today’s passage reminds us of the extraordinary power each one of us possess to shape our environments through our speech. Verses 1, 2, and 4 each contain couplets arranged in antithetical parallelism. That is, the first half of the verse focuses on the positive things we can do with our tongues while the second half shows the terrible destruction that our words can cause. As the letter of James warns us:
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
There are many times in our lives when we are tempted to believe that we cannot make a meaningful difference in the lives of other people. But that is a lie straight from the pit of hell (and its smells of smoke!). We can profoundly bless other people by the words that come out of our mouths. Do you want to transform wrath into peace, commend knowledge, and bring healing to troubled souls as though you were a tree of life? You can – and the power is in your tongue. Use it wisely!
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 28
Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.