Josh Willetts • Middle School Pastor

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Wise Speech–Proverbs

I love Proverbs because the writers give us wisdom in simple terms. They like to get to the point with short phrases, but the eternal truth is jam-packed in those few words. Words are such an important part of everyone’s life that it is wise for all of us to listen up to what Proverbs has to say about our speech.

MONDAY: Power of the Speech

Proverbs 18:21

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is a phrase I heard as a kid in school. If kids were in the middle of an argument on the playground, this phrase would be thrown out by one of the kids to show their toughness.

But the truth is that words really can hurt. Words are very powerful. All of us probably have scars that are decades old from hurtful comments. Our words also have power for good. I can think back to specific conversations from my mentors during which their words were empowering. I love the phrase in Proverbs that states our words have the power of life.

This week, to whom can you bring life with the right words?

TUESDAY: Controlling the Speech

Proverbs 21:23; 25:28

When I was first learning to ride a bike, it was a bit of a traumatic experience for me. When my dad took off the training wheels and let me ride in a parking lot, I struggled with control. Somehow, as he pushed me to get going, I would end up running into a light pole or something else. I didn’t have very good control.

Proverbs 25:28 tells how terrifying life can be without self-control. It is a great picture for us. The city walls were important to keep out enemies or wild animals. The walls provided safety and stability. Without them life would be chaotic! The same is true with our speech. It is so necessary to control our speech. Maybe you can look back at a situation when you said something, texted something, or put something up on social media in anger and did not control your speech. You probably remember it because of the chaos that followed in your life due to the lack of control. With God’s strength you can control your speech; if you don’t, you’re going to get yourself into a world of hurt.

For Today: In what ways can you exercise more control over your speech?

WEDNESDAY: Gentle Speech

Proverbs 15:1

We need to show wisdom by controlling what we say, but it is also important to be careful how we say something. My wife has patiently reminded me at times when I needed to be a little gentler in my speech to my kids. There have been times in the heat of the moment I raised my voice in frustration or anger. It can be the right words that need to be said, but if it isn’t said in the right way, the speech can be hurtful. How we say something is especially important in conflict. God has created us all unique with different tastes, backgrounds, and values. The differences do open the door for conflict, but it is amazing how a calm, gentle word can soften a hostile situation.

For Today: Find someone to whom you can be gentler with your speech, and determine how can you do that this week.

THURSDAY: Encouraging Speech

Proverbs 16:24

I love the imagery of this verse. A pleasant word or encouraging word is like a sweet treat. If I were to write this in modern terms, I would say, “pleasant words are like a bowl of cookie dough ice cream.” After a long day, I love to sit down with a bowl of ice cream. It is so satisfying. The same thing can be said about an encouraging word. When, after having a tough day or working really hard on something, someone notices and offers an encouraging word, it fills you up when you are on empty.

I also love the idea that pleasant words can bring healing. It is true! I can think of times when a note, or text, or a kind word was spoken to me right when I needed it, and it built me up.

For Today: Look for people you can encourage with pleasant words.

FRIDAY: Timing of Speech

Proverbs 15:23

Timing is everything. This is so true with speech. I can remember a time when we got more back on our tax return than we had anticipated. I found that out late at night after my wife went to sleep. In my excitement of receiving more of a refund, I woke my wife up to share the good news. She was not as excited as I thought she would be. She was happy to get a larger refund, but the timing was terrible. How good is a timely word! You’ve probably seen the wisdom in this when a joke falls flat just because it wasn’t the right time. Timing isn’t just important in comedy, but in all speech. Making an important announcement? How good is a timely word! Giving a critique? How good is a timely word! Sharing tough news or great news? How good is a timely word!

For Today: In what ways can you work on your the timing of your speech?