You might have heard of the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And indeed it is. The sword starts wars; the pen -- that is, ink on paper, words in a treaty -- stops them. Wise Solomon says, “Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And in another short verse, we are told that “harsh words” stir up anger, but a “soft answer” turns away wrath (See Proverbs 12:18 and 15:1).
As I continue to mature (yes, I am still maturing, and by God’s grace I hope, maturing wisely), I grow ever more mindful of right words used rightly. I am utterly convinced that only the right words, spoken in the right tone and at the right time, are capable of bringing about healing. Other than that, you risk bringing about strife. I don’t think I can over emphasise this truth.
Again, let’s take some good counsel from wise Solomon; he solemnly exhorts: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)
“Let your words be few.” Over the years, somehow I’ve been led to accept this as my personal precept and to try to live by it. “Few”, is more often than not, fully sufficient. Consider the following.
A few days ago, Florence my wife, came across this in her quiet time devotion (she can’t recall where she got it, but thinks it’s from the publishers of The Daily Bread.) A college writing class was challenged to think about the concept of writing a biographical sketch in six - yes! six - words. As the lecturer thought about this concept she wondered if we could find any six-word biographies of people in the Bible. What she discovered was astonishing. Many of our scriptural heroes have already been described that way. For example:
• David, of whom God said: “A man after My own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14) • Paul’s self-description: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:1) • Paul’s description of Timothy: “My true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2 NIV) • What about these words about Mary: “The virgin shall be with child” (Matt. 1:23) • And about Jesus: “Became flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14)
Amazing isn’t it? Six words! And if you let God lead you, your imagination can get the whole story.
What six-word bio would describe you? • “Not an easy person to love”? • “A shining light for the Lord”? • “Once lost, now found. Eternally thankful!”?
Let me end with another wise word from one of the wisest man who ever lived: “Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:6).
So, would you watch your next word before you let it tumble out of your mouth?
Pastor Robert Chew (firstname.lastname@example.org)