Recurring themes in the Book of Proverbs are a testimony to Solomon’s passion for the practical, spiritual instruction of his children. Parents would do well to follow Solomon’s example and grasp the value of repetition when it comes to teaching and imparting moral and spiritual truths to their children. How different our lives, homes, churches and society would be if parents embraced the responsibility to teach their children to love and fear God in their words and deeds (Deuteronomy 6:1, 7-8). My friend, you are mistaken if you believe simply having your children in church once a week will be enough to equip them to face a world of sin and temptation.
In today’s devotional, Solomon returns to a challenge we all face—controlling our tongue! The power of words is the theme for our study from Proverbs 18:6-8. Two individuals are the subject of today’s devotional thought—the Fool (18:6-7) and the Gossip/Slanderer (18:8).
By definition, the fool is an individual who lacks wisdom in both what he says and does. He is by nature undisciplined, slow to hear and silly in his demeanor. Fools come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and economic classes. They have no geographical or cultural boundaries; however, one characteristic of fools is universal—their mode of communication.
Proverbs 18:6 – “A fool’s lips [silly speech; stupid talk] enter into contention [strife], and his mouth [speech] calleth [invites] for strokes [blows; stripes]. 7 A fool’s mouth [speech] is his destruction [ruin], and his lips [talk; speech] are the snare [trap] of his soul [life; person].”
Notice that contentiousness is the nature of a fool. His mouth is a trouble to himself, his family and those closest to him. Wherever he goes, strife, division and hostility follow. Someone reading today’s proverb might reflect on their life and wonder why they are often embroiled in conflict. They have a pattern of getting a new job—and there is trouble. They change church memberships—and trouble follows. They have family time–and trouble explodes. The fool’s mouth is his trouble!
Solomon introduces a second individual who also has trouble with his mouth–the “talebearer” (Proverbs 18:8).
Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a talebearer [slanderer; gossip; whisperer] are as wounds [their words burn], and they [words of a talebearer] go down into the innermost parts [piercing the heart and sprit] of the belly [a man’s innermost being].”
The “talebearer” is a gossip and a slanderer. Unlike the silly fool whose mouth portends to his own destruction, the talebearer is malicious and spiteful—wounding and destroying without discretion. His manner is covert and his pattern is to sows seeds of disunity and discord with his words. He is like Diotrephes, a member of the 1st century church of whom it was said:
3 John 1:9-11 – “Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not…prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith…11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
A gossip and slanderer wounds his victims and impales good men with his words. It is my observation that a Diotrephes in the church seldom repents and makes whole the lives and ministries he has wounded or destroyed. He burns his bridges and gives little thought that he has committed a great evil against God and His people.
Someone reading today’s devotional might see their own reflection in Solomon’s description of the fool and the talebearer. Others might be guilty of listening to “grapevine” gossip. Both are sinful habits and they cannot be broken until the sinner is willing to confess it as sin and ask God and his victims for forgiveness!
Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
A reminder: The challenge for our daily study in the Book of Proverbs is to practice the discipline of reading the chapter of the day that corresponds with the day of the month. Today being the 18th, I invite you to read Proverbs 18 in its entirety.