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Proverbs 17:2728; 21:23; 18:1921; 11:13; 26:2024; 10:1819; 12:1719; 25:1113; 31:89comment (0)

March 20, 2014

By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.

Related Scripture: Proverbs 17:2728; 21:23; 18:1921; 11:13; 26:2024; 10:1819; 12:1719; 25:1113; 31:89

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

Guard Your Speech

Proverbs 17:27–28; 21:23; 18:19–21; 11:13; 26:20–24; 10:18–19; 12:17–19; 25:11–13; 31:8–9

Think Before You Speak (17:27–28; 21:23)

We live in an era of immediacy. We have fast food, high speed Internet, fast online shipping and immediate communication abilities such as Facebook and Twitter. However, with this ability to let the world know our immediate thoughts, we gain insight into ideas and opinions that are quite controversial and inadvisable. Many times we hear that a certain famous individual made some offensive comment via Twitter only to come out later and say that his Twitter account “got hacked” in an attempt to take back what was said. 

The problem is that these people are failing to abide by Proverbs 17:27–28: “The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips” and also Proverbs 21:23: “The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” 

We demonstrate wisdom when our words and silence give evidence of careful thought and discretion. As Christians, we need to consider what we say so that we best glorify God. Speaking before we think often gets us into trouble and does not demonstrate self control, which is one of the fruits of the spirit. If we want to best reflect Christ, we need to realize that our words need to reflect Christ.

Recognize the Power of Words (18:19–21)

One of the reasons that Christians need to think before they speak is that words have the power to really damage relationships. Once something is said, it cannot be taken back. If we get angry and use harsh words, we can cause irreparable damage. Christians are to be loving and trustworthy and if we speak harshly, we undermine the witness that we have for Christ.

Guard Against Gossip (11:13, 26:20–24)

Gossip is taking place all around us, but as Christians, we need to avoid such talk. Many times we have some information that we want to share with others either so that we can degrade the character of the person in question or perhaps so that we can feel better about ourselves. But gossip hurts people. It gives people bad impressions of others. As Christians we need to be concerned with uplifting one another and loving one another. Certainly the golden rule of Jesus (Matt. 7:12) applies here: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you don’t want people talking behind your back, why do it to others? By refraining from joining in or starting gossip we demonstrate wisdom.

Guard Against Falsehood (10:18–19, 12:17–19)

God is a God of truth — this is clear throughout Scripture and reflected in the Ten Commandments. Since God is a God of truth, Christians are called to speak truthfully — they do not bear false testimony. Since we are to reflect God, Christians show wisdom when they avoid speaking falsely or deceitfully and instead speak only the truth.

Use Words to Help and Heal (25:11–13, 31:8–9)

Instead of joining in with society in criticizing and gossiping, Christians should use their words to bring healing and help. There are people in society who are put down by others and criticized unfairly. Christians need to be the ones to bring encouragement to these individuals and especially to bring the gospel. As Paul reminds us in Romans 10, bringing the gospel is the best news anyone can hear. It brings help and healing to those in the most important need — spiritual need. The gospel allows us to have a relationship with God.

Christians also are called to speak for those with no voice. Christians should be at the forefront of speaking up for those whose rights are trampled on. Christians need to be sure people are treated fairly and everyone has a chance to hear the gospel.

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