Devotional: February 22, 2021
Intelligent children listen to their parents;
foolish children do their own thing.
The good acquire a taste for helpful conversation;
bullies push and shove their way through life.
Careful words make for a careful life;
careless talk may ruin everything.
Proverbs 13: 1-3 The Message
Words matter. God’s word offers a wonderful perspective on the importance of the words we utter, and the importance of communication.
In the space of just three verses, the writer of Proverbs offers three lessons on what to aim for as we communicate. These words have withstood the test of time.
The first lesson appears to be for the children, but it is also for parents. Parents need to teach their children about many things. From safety, to reading, to navigating through some of life’s challenges. Children learn to listen, and hopefully the guidance they receive will be full of wisdom, and helpful to their wellbeing. When a child is offered wise guidance, it is their choice to decide how to respond to that guidance, as they grow. Here the scripture warns that a child who has been offered wisdom, but makes unwise choices, is foolish.
Even as an adult, there are still times where I am learning from my parents. We should never stop learning. Listening to good advice can save a person time, and grief. Good listening skills are the building block upon which all good communication is constructed. To honor God and love people, begin with listening…
Second, acquire a taste for helpful conversation. Conversations usually cover a variety of subjects. When choosing words, aim to be helpful. Provide positive input and suggestions. Consider your purpose in using your words. Good people aim for helpful words, and clarifying communication. Their words build people up, and serve to foster healthy patterns of communication.
Bullies, on the other hand, often use words as weapons. Instead of building people up, they use words to tear people down. Bullies wield words to intimidate others. They are like the proverbial bull in a China closet, pushing and shoving their way through life. They may make their way far, but they leave a path of destruction behind them. They use words to hurt, rather than heal.
The third lesson we learn from these verses is to be careful in our communication. I love the words: “careful words make for a careful life”. We need to choose our words carefully. Sometimes we may know something, but that doesn’t mean we need to repeat it. When we are angry, it may be helpful to hold our tongues, and weigh our words before speaking them. Those who are careful with their words will find that their words are treasured.
The alternative is to be careless with words. It seems like many in today’s world fall into this trap. Their motto seems to be, “If I feel it, or heard it, I must say it, or repeat it, regardless of who gets hurt.” There is a lack of discernment or kindness in so many words which are spoken today. There is also a lack of consideration as to the recipient’s needs or feelings. This is not only careless, but it is thoughtless, too. It also erodes our trust in one another. We ought to choose our words carefully, and judiciously.
My guess is that many of us know these lessons. We have hopefully practiced them throughout our lives. They truly do make perfect sense. The challenge is that we may not always live up to these ideals for communication. Thankfully, that is where forgiveness comes in. In reflecting upon our own lives, we might realize that we have used our words in ways which have been unkind. If so, apologize and ask for forgiveness. If that is no longer an option, turn to the Lord. He will see your contrite heart, and your humble desires. Thankfully, we are always offered the opportunity to strive to do better. May the Lord help us to listen well, then to communicate what is helpful, and always to be careful of one another’s ears, and souls…
Lord, I am so thankful that You teach me, offering me daily guidance on how to become a better person. Help me to reflect upon Your words, and let my own words be glorifying to You. Forgive me when I believe that I am the only one who has wise words to offer. Give me the humility, patience, and wisdom to receive guidance through others You have placed in my life.
With an open heart, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen