“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21
In our ladies group we have been seeking wisdom as we splash around in the book of Proverbs. This week we looked at the wisdom of our WORDS. May I just begin with, “OUCH!” How painful to see how our words hurt, cripple and potentially destroy. Yet, in turn they have the ability to extend love, health and kindness. As the ladies came in to class, I instructed them to think of a word, just one positive ‘word’ that was either spoken to them with impacting results or a word they desire would be given to them, write it down on the bright 3×5 card provided and then place it face down on the table (leaving it there for now.)
Studying this week I came across something that I wish I would have known YEARS ago. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Power. Power here in the Hebrew is ‘yad’ which literally is … hand. Yes, that’s right, I checked multiple resources … ‘hand.’ The Hebrew bible words it: “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue…” According to ‘context always determines meaning,’ the word picture can translate as: We can either hand someone encouragement that births life or hand them strangling devastating words that tear down and destroy. Not only are we to consider and nurture what is in our heart, but also how that transfers to what we are ‘handing over’ with our words. Paints a vibrant picture doesn’t it! Jesus said, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart...” – Matthew 15:18
‘Yad’ also conveys the idea of strength and power. Our words have creative power, what I say to another can potentially help carve out an understanding about themselves, others or a circumstance. Is the carving good or harmful? Or may we consider also when leaving a conversation, have you like me, quickly regret what we did NOT say? Oh we don’t want to leave the person ‘empty handed’, with words we didn’t hand over – life giving words of love, hope and generosity. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18 May we leave healing in their hands.
I was taken to Genesis 14; Abram, (not yet called Abraham) had just successfully rescued his nephew Lot from being taken captive by a group of mean Kings, he along with the inhabitants of Sodom, which included all their stuff as well. Abram bringing the folks home, was met by the King of Sodom, the king told Abe that he just wanted his people and Abe could keep all the loot. I love Abram’s response, “I have raised my hand to the LORD God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you…” Amazing response, but wait for it… “I have raised my hand…” Hand, ‘yad.’ Because of the relationship with his God, Abe raised his ‘power’ to say NO! Even though taking the stuff would make Abe even wealthier, he knew of the wickedness of Sodom and wanted no part of it. Immediately following this, God tells Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (15:1) There is reward in the power of righteously saying “NO!” A word of strength.
A side note: When communicating with someone, when they go to hand us words, words that are not uplifting, words of discouragement, hurtful or full of destructive power. Don’t take it. Patsy Clairmont said, “Have you ever considered that our spoken words not only go out, but they also go in?” Yes, by all means seek if the words are true, even though not given kindly, ask God to help us make proper adjustments, but refuse taking in destructive words. Doing so, is not a healthy habit.
In the closing of class, to help visualize all this, I asked the ladies to take the 3×5 card with their cherished word on it and hand it to the person next to them. They had just demonstrated how our spoken words are placed in the hands of others. (See what you’re missing at Bible study.)
Does this require awareness? Yes. Does it require Holy Spirit accountability? Yes. Does it take discipline? Yes. Growing maturity? Yes. And because we are fallible people, our heart and words will fail us, does it at times take forgiveness? Yes.
Words. If you can’t find the right, kind, GOOD words, as my dad used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” (Primarily with us said in reference to speaking with siblings.) It could be summed up in Proverbs 30:32b “Lay thine hand upon thy mouth.” King Jimmy.
For my beloved Janice. “Forgive me.”
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
In addition to the above, we viewed Beth Moore’s video teaching ‘Wising Up’ her study of the book of Proverbs.