An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble. Proverbs 12:13 NASB
The order of the Hebrew helps to better understand the phrase: “By the transgression of the lips is a snare to the evil man.” The word transgression means the violation of a law, or to go beyond a limit or boundary that was set. To be ensnared carries the meaning of bait or a lure, and consequently a trap or snare set by the hunter or trapper.
Solomon’s proverbs hold immense power to teach and align my heart and world with the kingdom of God — and they are simply words that come from our lips (or pen). Although words proceed from the mouth they originate in the heart. They are not the substance but rather the fruit. Like clothing is to the body. Or oil on canvas is to the artist. There is hardly a person alive that hasn’t spoken, even surprisingly, something that really is not the intent of their heart. Yet just because something is communicated that I did not intend, does not remove my responsibility for its impact. I have hidden places that seem to only come out with certain people, or in unique circumstances. Who knows why my heart is unlocked and affected the way that it is in certain moments, but in the end, it’s an opportunity — and thus the catch. For example, if I encounter someone who frustrates me at work regularly, and from my mouth comes, “I’d like that person to fail miserably!” Mean? Yes. Compassionate? No. For me, if I heard myself say this I would pray it is an opportunity for exposure, for light to shine in my dark place, to jolt me to corrective action. Love in action would not say such words. I would rather love, forgive, and pray resolution for this person. Yet, the same thing spoken by someone with no regard for the King or his kingdom starts in the exact same spot. Yet, from those words comes a plan… “fail miserably, yes, I can help make that happen.” And the plot thickens.
I love this conclusion of this proverb: the righteous will escape from trouble! But not without effort, or work, or awareness, or self-reflection, and the Wonderful Counselor’s help. It’s my heart and (flawed) character that spoke such a thought, so I take responsibility for it. The Holy Spirit provides the opportunity. He’s the great alchemist mixing the elements of life to give me the opportunity to become more like him every day. Expect it. Expect surprises and gasps (from me) at what comes from my own mouth. But also expect escape. He always provides it. He’s a good Counselor and never leads me through a situation He can not deliver me from.