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Proverbs: Using Words Wisely

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PROVERBS PART 9: WISDOM AND WORDS

announcements

1. Easter Weekend – Reflect on Good Friday, Rest on Holy Saturday, and Rejoice on Resurrection Sunday.
2. Impact 500 community outreach. Maps available at your Gospel Fellowship this week. 10-12 groups.
3. Missions Trip Final due today
4. Kids’ Grove layout – serving in that ministry is really serving each other.

Vision

1. Pray every day this week for America. God to set a revival fire in the US. David and Terrie Azzarello (Church Planters USA) as well as Matt and Anna Williams (Issaquah, WA) as well as Trevor Gartner (campus of Fresno State University).
Baptism - Frederick Smith
2. Give. Special offering on Easter Sunday
3. Pray for the next 14 consecutive days for your family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor and then invite them to join us on Easter weekend.

Introduction

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INtroduction

A Proverb is a little model of reality, a little verbal representation of some aspect of our daily lives.
A Proverb is a little model of reality, a little verbal representation of some aspect of our daily lives.
A Biblical proverb is like a diamond that has various facets and can be viewed from several angles and sides and look slightly different from each direction.
The world says, “Live and learn” but God says “Learn and Live.”
1903 The Wright brothers made history by inventing, building and successfully flying the first air plane in Kitty Hawk North Carolina. While it’s no doubt their courage and determination played a large part in their success, but long before they ever took their first flight they knew the plane would take off because they were able to test their method and wing strength in their homemade wind tunnel.
Proverbs are like that. They give you the opportunity to learn about life before you live it in reality.
Biblical Proverbs and wisdom teach us (positively) what life is really like
Today, we are going to walk through several Proverbs that focus on words.
Words are important. Language and words matter. I think that we are becoming less and less aware of this. God created us to be intelligent beings who use logic and thought to carefully craft language to interact with other human beings.
If we could visit the social landscape of the ancient eras we would find clusters of people having conversations about the things that they were thinking about. Greek philosophy is constructed on top of thought and logic and debate. Cultures advance through these conversations.
We live in an age when not only do human beings not read words in books and journals and magazines and newspapers, but human beings (broadly) don’t set their minds on rational, thought provoking words. Why? Because we don’t have to. The enemy of rational thinkers rely on emotions to determine what is right and what is wrong. I’m not against emotions, they’re God-given and they are good. But emotions are meant to spur us to action, not determine a course of action. Do you see the difference?
We love the first amendment, Freedom of Speech, and we should, but what that is so often code for is, I can say whatever I want to say and there shouldn’t be any consequences.
Consequently, when we aren’t forced to think for ourselves, we are emotional reactors. And when we live this way, we are prone to bad word choices. Bad word choices wreak havoc.
Words mark us as human, in the image of God. Like God, we use words to create trust and form relationships and build community. But unlike God, we use words to destroy trust and break relationships and divide community. Like God, we use words for one heart to touch another heart at a deep level. But unlike God, we use words for one heart to break another heart at a deep level.[1]
SO what I intend to do this morning is explain how our words matter to God and how they matter to our fellow brothers and sisters and others in our sphere of influence.

How do my words matter?

Words Reveal the Character of the Heart

Proverbs 20:15 ESV
15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
(ESV) — 15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
1. People come from all over the world in to American because literally, there is gold and abundance of costly stones. In other words: Wealth and riches are everywhere you look. Even a person who might be considered poor in our sight is still wealthier than the majority of the world.
2. But something that most of the world even American’s will go their entire lives without is precious jewels. They still lock up the rare jewels at jewelry stores. Sometimes they won’t even expose publicly the jewels, but will showcase a decoy in case someone ever contrives a plan to heist it.
3. So what does this have to do with our words? Well, to put it bluntly, anyone can spout off at the mouth and say a lot of words, but really say nothing at all. But when someone who crafts their words carefully speaks, they’re a rare find.
4. And in God’s economy, that’s precious. When someone takes the time to consider what they’re going to say to another one of his image bearers, he is pleased. Even if what is being said is hard to hear, the very fact that those words came out with knowledge and not just emotion, means a great deal to God.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
Proverbs 12:22 ESV
22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
1. What are lying lips? In the Hebrew the word refers most commonly to someone who breaks faith. Breaking the faith or the trust of someone else doesn’t always happen the way we think about lying.
2. The enemy here is partial disclosure, not only entire falsehoods. When someone doesn’t want to tell a lie, they usually skirt around the truth without giving false information. That’s not honest it’s deceitful.
3. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their deception and said that they were of their father the devil and then said this about the him:
(ESV) — 44 …He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44 ESV
44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
4. Faithful words and actions are so vital in our relationships with each other. Relationships thrive on trust and we cannot build trust on vague ambiguity. True and faithful words are the parents of love, trust, and intimacy. False words and ambiguity are the enemies of God-glorifying community.
5. That’s why, in God’s economy he finds faithful words and actions delightful.
6. Lying lips is a sin. Breaking faith is sin. But what about listening to lies and gossip? It’s funny that we would all agree that lying is a sin, but what about gossip and listening to those things?
(ESV) — 4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
Proverbs 17:4 ESV
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
1. We read that right. It’s not a mistake that God calls those who listen to “wicked lips” is synonymous with lying. Why is that? Because when you lend your ear to those who gossip and speak evil about others you are lying to yourself. You believe that since you’re not saying it, it’s not sinful. You’re believing that no one’s really getting hurt by this, but God wants us to know that we are contaminating our minds and our spirit when we listen to gossipers.
2. Now, let me classify this: Jesus just ripped in to the Pharisees calling them children of the devil. Here is one tiny difference, he said it to their face and it was in defense of the people because they were seeking to convince the people that Jesus was not sent from God.
3. So often when we want to “call someone out” we’re doing it behind their back, without fact checking, and it’s really never about protecting someone other than ourselves. That is sin and is abominable in God’s sight.
(ESV) — 8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Proverbs 18:8 ESV
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
1. The hard part is that we’re usually up for some juicy gossip. That’s just our devious and depraved hearts that crave that. We must do the work of mortifying (killing) that sinful lust.
2. Instead, here is what we should do.
(ESV) — 8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8–9 ESV
8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
1. Why don’t you start a new trend today of speaking up for those who can’t or don’t have the courage to speak for themselves. What if you made it your little ministry—when someone is being torn down you open your mouth and judge righteously.
2. It would be pretty special to be a part of a community that defended the rights of the poor and needy and the destitute.
3. Words reveal our character. What have your words said about your heart this week?

Words Contain Enormous Emotional Power

(ESV) — 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21 ESV
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
1. Our words matter at an emotional level, they contain enormous emotional power. This is literal, words can bring life and death. We do not have the option of carelessness with our word choice.
2. During the Clinton administration a man who served in the White House as the Deputy White House counsel named Vince Foster committed suicide shortly after President Clinton was elected. In his torn suicide note was found the phrase, “Here ruining people is considered sport.”
3. Countless suicides have been reported similarly. The popular children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a myth. Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can kill.
4. Jesus taught that “all people will give account for every idle or careless word they speak.”
(ESV) — 18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18 ESV
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
1. The English Proverb equivalent is that someone’s words cut to the heart. They were like razor blades flying from their mouth. Those blades cut and leave scars. Forgiveness is always possible, but building trust after cutting words is a much longer process.
2. Words cannot just cut. They can bring healing, they can give life and love.
What does this love mean? How can it be made visible? First, it means a very simple thing. It means that when … I have failed to love my Christian brother, I go to him and say, “I’m sorry.” … It may sound simplistic to start with saying we are sorry and asking forgiveness, but it is not. This is the way of renewed fellowship, whether it is between a husband and wife, a parent and child, within a Christian community, or between groups. When we have shown a lack of love toward the other, we are called by God to go and say, “I’m sorry.… I really am sorry.” If I am not willing to say, “I’m sorry,” when I have wronged somebody else—especially when I have not loved him—I have not even started to think about the meaning of a Christian oneness which the world can see. The world has a right to question whether I am a Christian. And more than that … if I am not willing to do this very simple thing, the world has a right to question whether Jesus was sent from God and whether Christianity is true.6
(ESV) — 25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25 ESV
25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
1. We don’t put a lot of stock in our own words sometimes. In fact that’s usually what keeps us from sending an encouraging text message or commenting on someone’s social media post because “It doesn’t really matter what I say” we think.
2. But that is rarely ever the case. When we’re anxious or depressed we tend to want to just be alone. And when we’re alone we preach all kinds of heresy to ourselves. I love Bonhoeffer on this:
The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him.… The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.7
3. When we’re weighed what we need is a good word from our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we don’t need necessarily to hear, “It will go away” or “It will get better” we need to hear, “I give you peace, not as the world gives it, but I give you peace. So don’t be troubled or weary or anxious because Christ has overcome the world.”
(ESV) — 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 10:11 ESV
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 10:21 ESV
21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.
(ESV) — 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
“Give grace to those who hear”
4. There is immense emotional power in our words.
Transitional statement: Our words do matter because they reveal character and contain power, but my third point is perhaps a more recent Proverb:

Talk is Cheap

1. It’s good to be careful and thoughtful with what we say, but let’s not take it to the extreme and end up being all talk and no action. There is power in our words, but practically they are limited. So,
(ESV) — 23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 ESV
23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
2. “Mere talk” is a heavy phrase. God wants us to know that we can dream and we can plan and we can craft, but ultimately we must act (toil) if we expect some profit or good to come out of our talk. We can’t talk a big talk for defending the defenseless:
(ESV) — 12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Proverbs 24:12 ESV
12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
3. In other words, we don’t get to claim ignorance about what’s going on in the world around us.
4. When someone in the church community comes in to your mind, don’t assume all is well, don’t assume the pastor is taking care of it, act. Pray for them, encourage them, take them a meal, do something. We are our brothers keeper.
(ESV) — 3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 13:3 ESV
3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
1. Talk is cheap that’s one limitation for our words, another is that our words can be used an ammunition against us. It’s like the warning that police officers issue to those being arrested, “You have the right to remain silent, what you say can and WILL be used against you in the court of law.”
2. Have you ever tried to help someone with some comforting words and later learned that they either misinterpreted them or worse are holding them against you?
3. We are limited in that way. Sometimes we don’t say the right thing or it doesn’t come out just right. That’s okay. Jesus is the only perfect wordsmith. Jesus never spoke a word of hatred or gossip or deceit. All of his words were perfectly spoken.
(ESV) — 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
John 7:46 ESV
46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
4. I find it fascinating that even though Jesus did guard his mouth, he didn’t preserve his life. He came to ruin because we could not handle the truth about ourselves. So we killed him.
5. And remarkably in his dying he took upon himself all of our lies, all of our gossip, all of our half-truth and deception, all of our slander and all of our unfaithfulness and he nailed it to the cross. Now the Father looks down on us and instead of condemning us for our sinfulness he sings his love over us in forgiveness. That is all those who trust in him.
Closing Transitional statement: even a study on words isn’t just a study on words. All Scripture points to Christ. While our words do matter. They matter to God and to our fellow man:

God's Words matter most

1. If you’re the anxious one. If you’re the one who’s been gossiped about, etc… if you’ve failed to preach good news to others, rest in this today:
(ESV) — 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:23–25 ESV
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
2. God’s word (the Gospel) lasts forever. All other things spoken against you, all things you’ve spoken, they’re all temporary. God’s words of life are eternal.
John 5:24 ESV
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
(ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
God’s Words actually have power to shape us and change us to become the type of person who uses words to bring life and build up.
[1] Ortlund, R. C., Jr. (2012). Preaching the Word: Proverbs—Wisdom that Works. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 131). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
6 Francis A. Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1970), pp. 21, 22.
7 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), p. 23.
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