Wordy wisdom from Proverbs
Words. Powerful. Persuasive. Passionate. That’s what they can be. Whatever you choose to talk about, there’s a word for it, by default. Yes, at times we can be lost for words, but more usually it’s the other way round and we find we open our mouths and put our foot in it!
It’s my guess that some of life’s greatest joys will have been when either we said the right thing or someone said the right thing to us. And conversely, some of our biggest regrets will involve times where we messed up with our words. We say to ourselves, “How could I have said that? Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut?”
Life experience shows us that there can be particular trigger points to us not doing well with our words. Three such situations are times of dialogue when the stakes are high, our emotions are running strong and there are opposing viewpoints. At times you get a “perfect storm” situation with all three occurring simultaneously. It’s at these times that we must be particularly careful with our words. But whether life feels good or not, our words matter every day, every time.
The Bible is very real about the power of our tongues, for good and for ill. This contrasting power of words is illustrated well during the wartime years in Britain. The popular slogan, “Careless talk costs lives,” highlighted the risk that people could literally die if Britain’s war strategies were accidentally revealed. This can be contrasted with the stirring effect of Winston Churchill’s words. Historian Simon Schama writes this: “Clement Atlee wrote that, if someone had asked him what Churchill had done to win the war, he would have answered, ‘Talk about it.’ ” Schama goes on to write the following about Churchill’s speeches:
“But anyone of my generation (born as the war ended) who talks to anyone of my parents’ generation knows, at least anecdotally, that those speeches can be described, without hyperbole, as transforming. Some 70 per cent of the country listened whenever the prime minister spoke.”
The focus of this series is the pithy wisdom of the book of Proverbs and its advice about words. The emphasis is on our use of words to speak life. The book of Proverbs offers us sayings whose truths have been fashioned through the tough knocks of the school of life. All such down-to-earth wisdom is considered God’s wisdom by the authors of Proverbs. We hope you’ll enjoy learning some wordy wisdom from God’s good book over the next 16 days.
 Patterson K, Grenny J, McMillan R, Switzler A, Crucial Conversations, 2012, McGraw Hill, New York, p1-2
 Schama S, A History of Britain Volume 3, 2002, BBC Books, London, p509