Words to live by | Online journal of Marc Heriot

Posts tagged ‘Words’

Proverbs 12:18 Weaponized words

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 NASB

I can feel the deep emotion reflected in this verse. A wounded spirit is not in the same category as a broken limb or a cut finger. “Speaking rashly” according to Strong, is from batah; a primitive root; to babble; hence, to vociferate angrily — pronounce, speak (unadvisedly). I have vented these one-sided conversations with, or on others, working hard to authenticate myself. I’m human. But Solomon takes it further to say, “… like the thrust of a sword.” The speaker’s intent is to damage and hurt. Words are powerful and no one wounds like the wounded. I have been on the receiving end of another’s outburst. Once the words start rolling off their tongue, it is like a dam breaking—there’s no way to stop the flood of emotion, hurt, and misunderstanding. I can live with a one-sided conversation, but when the sword strikes my person, it feels violent. Cruel. Using words thoughtlessly and without control is like a highly pressurized hose that someone turns on without holding it… it flops and flails wildly and everyone nearby gets soaked. Getting wet is one thing, being sliced and diced is another.

The words that come from my mouth reflect the experience of my soul and spirit.

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:34-36 NASB

My heart and mind is often the battlefield, the violent intersection of bad or good, sickness or health, poverty or prosperity, darkness or light, or even demonic or angelic. How my soul processes the taunts, bullying, and belittling of others, or their subtle nod, praise, or recognition defines who I am. Since Adam’s fall in the Garden, the odds have been substantially tilted toward my adversary’s goal of damage and irretrievable well-being of my soul. Until Christ.

Words which scar and mar, may also be used for health and wealth (of soul). Solomon makes the connection earlier:

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. Proverbs 4:20-22 NASB

The word “wise” is from chakam; meaning Intelligent, skillful or artful — cunning (man), subtle, wise (hearted). The picture of intentionality. Purpose. Assessing a situation and responding in a way that brings out the best good.

I need healing. We all do. The head on collision I had with sin caused internal injuries I am still recovering from. Yet, I receive grace as I sit at my Savior’s feet — a great love he pours like a stream of oil into my heart and mind. Even into my memories. Although healing is my Father’s gift to me, I may clothe myself in his wisdom which becomes a bubbling fountain of refreshing that I may share with others at the perfect Spirit-directed moment. When I hear your pain, see the expression of your loss or confusion, or even despair, I may pull from the treasure he’s placed again and again in my soul and share it with you. And you with me.

“The wise” are those that are skilled, observant. Healing others’ wounds could be a full-time job, if I opened my heart to it. Starting my day at His throne helps me center on and receive from my source of life for the day. Rather than be a consumer, I want to be a producer. Rather than be an observer, a player. Field rather than sidelines. Action rather than inaction. In the morning I aspire to have my needy old man nailed to a cross and buried six feet under. My new man hears words such as “You are a mighty man, a warrior, nothing can snatch you from my hand, you are chosen, I knew you before you were born, everything you need is yours for the asking” and on it goes… When I’m not consumed with myself, I notice you. I hear and see just what you need. I speak the word, and you are healed. Yes, you’re beautiful. Capable. I understand the pain you feel, but let’s get over it and experience something else now.

Although the tongue may be weaponized, my God uses it to heal and make whole:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NASB

Proverbs 12:13 Daily opportunities

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.