Read Proverbs 12
Focus on verse 18
I suspect there are few people who would claim they have never uttered a rash word. I know that I certainly have been guilty of carelessly using words that harm people. Thankfully most often it has been unintentional, but the times I regret most are where the rash words were premeditated with intent to injure. Of course there are the times we disguise hurtful words claiming that we are merely revealing the truth. While there may be times when speaking the truth is difficult and awkward, when the truth is proclaimed in the context of love it also brings restoration and healing.
In today’s reading the focus is on the image Solomon creates in our mind when he compares rash words with sword thrusts. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (v. 18) I would have to admit that it is much easier to use words like a sword to slash and cut and thrust people through than it is to use them as surgeon’s scalpel and a healing balm, but both scenarios are possible.
This has never been more evident than with the advances in communication by means of social media. We now have more opportunity than ever to speak our mind, and express our thoughts and emotions to an ever-wider audience of friends and acquaintances. This presents us with tremendous opportunities to speak, or more correctly “typing”, the truth. It also increases the possibility of posting rash words that have the effect of sword thrusts on people we hardly know. There have been more than a few cases in the news lately of young people who have taken their own lives apparently because of what other people have said about them and to them through social media.
It is interesting, and I suspect, not at all by chance that this verse in Proverbs is placed where it is. Both the verse prior to it (v. 17) and the verse after it (v. 19) are speaking of truth. Sandwiched between these recommendations to speak truth is the caution to be careful how we package that truth. In Ephesians 4 the Apostle Paul admonishes the Ephesian believers no to be influenced by popular myths about how to live, but “rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” When we speak the truth in love, it has the effect that Solomon speaks of in the latter part of verse 18…it brings healing to those who have been hurt by the deception they have believed to be true.
It would seem that the application here is that a wise person understands that it does nothing for the Kingdom of God to accost a person who is living in deception with harsh words. In my experience this simply reinforces the deception in most cases. When truth is gently revealed in the context of love, it shatters the hold the lie has on the person who has been deceived and everybody wins.