Jump Start # 2271
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
I’ve been reading a book about the reformer Martin Luther. I have a whole collection of books about him. He understood the use of the printed word and his courage before a powerful political and religious system, the Catholic church, is impressive knowing that his literal life could be taken. Those who were labeled heretics before him were burned at the stake and their stories so twisted that few would remember them afterwards. This is what Luther faced. He knew once he crossed the verbal bridge of condemning the pope and the councils authority, there was no going back. He would have to face come what may and most likely it wouldn’t be pretty.
Courage built upon faith is what enabled Elijah to stand before the prophets of Baal and Jezebel. It’s the same that allowed our Lord to face Calvary. It’s the same that allowed Paul to face Agrippa. And, without realizing it, it becomes the same for you and I.
Our verse today surrounds several contrasts.
First, there is one who is speaking rashly as opposed to one who is thinking before he speaks. The rash speaking is compared to the thrusts of a sword. This seems to be our culture today. Saying anything and then apologizing later. Saying things that are not true. Jumping to conclusions before the facts are gathered. Saying offensive things. Speaking rashly, emotionally, putting the heart before the brain, hurts.
Second, there is the wounds of the rashly speaking in contrasts to the healing words of things that are thought out. The end of a conversation with someone speaking rashly results in one who is upset, hurt, angry and ready to roll up the sleeves in a fight. The end of a conversation with healing words results in hugs, handshakes, hearts that are together, friendships built. One leaves talking to a rash person feeling worse. One leaves talking with someone who offers healing words feeling better.
Third, there is the contrast between the wise and the fool. The word fool is not specifically stated, but it is definitely in the air and implied. The tongue of the wise brings healing. What is the tongue of the rash? What are the thrusts of swords? Those come from a fool. He doesn’t think. He just speaks his mind. He doesn’t understand that some things should not be said. He doesn’t know how to say tough things in a kind way. He lets the chips fly and what a mess he creates. He is a fool because he doesn’t think. He doesn’t use restraints. He doesn’t consider how his words might be received. He doesn’t realize that he could offend.
Fourth, there is the contrasts in purpose. The wise wants to make things better. He brings words of healing. Sometimes to heal, involves pain. Sometimes a surgery is necessary to get better. The surgery hurts, but it brings healing. The wise isn’t hiding the truth. The wise isn’t saying things just to make the other person feel better. The wise isn’t saying what the other wants to hear. He is speaking words that will heal. The fool doesn’t think about the other person. He just talks. He speaks his empty mind and shallow heart and gives no consideration to influence, truth or how his words may be received.
There are times when courage must stand upon faith and speak. This verse tempers us. It reminds us that we are not going to thrust our swords in the air. But with careful thought, prayerful choice of words, we will speak. To be silent, Lincoln once said, is to be a coward.
The wise person considers the settings, the circumstances and the nature of the person he is trying to heal. It doesn’t do much good to get into an argument with a fool. You will accomplish very little and it only raises your blood pressure.
The wise person doesn’t invite himself where he is not welcome. Some arguments and debates do not include us. You do not have to attend every disagreement that you are invited to.
The wise person not only is thinking about how he can help the situation, that’s where the healing comes in, but he also considers what this will do to him personally. Will this upset him so much that he becomes shaken, set back and filled with anxiety? Will it harm him spiritually?
All of this leads to a new arena of discussions, the internet. Someone sends you a post to read. You decide to read some of the comments. You have just walked into a war. Idiots, fools, unprincipled people, vulgar minds fill the comment boxes. Back and forth these exchanges go. Blasphemous things are said about the Lord. The Bible is ridiculed. After a few of those comments, you are ready to pick up your sword and enter the battle. You are going to set these people straight. You are going to defend the truth. With a few quick strokes of your keyboard, you have now been pulled into a battle that finds people making fun of you, cursing you and calling you names. The sword swipes are numerous. And now you wish you never entered but feel you can’t leave. This exchange makes you weary and angry. It leaves you disappointed and disillusioned in your fellow man. You find hatred, racism, arrogance, and ignorance all together and all aimed at you.
Solomon tells us that there is at time to speak and a time to be silent. Knowing the audience. Knowing how honest people are in asking questions. Knowing how profitable and helpful a discussion would be makes all the difference.
I love Luther and I love courage standing upon faith. However, there are times and there are places where fools speak rashly and thrust swords that wound. The fool speaks more than he listens. The fool isn’t interested in hearing what you say. The fool is impatient. And, in those settings, much like our Lord before His accusers, there is a time simply to be silent.
Find ways to use your words today to heal. Taking people to Jesus is always the best thing to do.