Tag Archives: Tongue

Proverbs 30:33 – Harboring an angry spirit will provoke strife

fightThe subject of Proverbs 30:33 is the inevitability of strife and contention when a sinner gives rein to anger.  Two common illustrations serve as physical models to express the truth.

Proverbs 30:33 – “Surely the churning [pressure; forcing; wringing] of milk bringeth forth [proceed; bring out; i.e. produces] butter, and the wringing [pressure; forcing; wringing] of the nose [nostril; i.e. anger, wrath] bringeth forth [proceed; bring out; i.e. produces] blood [of which the shedding of blood causes death]: so the forcing [pressure; wringing] of wrath [same as “nose” indicating anger; quick-tempererd] bringeth forth [proceed; bring out; i.e. produces] strife [contention; controversy; adversary; dispute].”

churning milkThe ancient work of churning fresh milk to make butter is an unfamiliar activity in our day of big-box grocery stores with refrigerator shelves lined with a variety of commercially produced butters and margarines.  I cherish a faint memory of my fraternal grandmother churning butter in her kitchen, sitting on a slat kitchen chair and aggressively working a wood paddle up and down in a clay fired jar. Her churning slowly brought forth butter.

The second picture is the physical reality that excessive blowing of the nose or a blow to the nose in a fistfight will produce the inevitable–a stream of blood and a bloody nose.

Understanding attitudes and actions have consequences (churning fresh milk produces butter and a blow to the nose brings forth blood), a third inevitability is stated:  A sinner harboring an angry, bitter spirit will provoke strife and fighting.

Anger and bitterness are emotions that rage in the bosom of foolish sinners, too proud to see their pride and self-centeredness is at the root of a majority of the conflicts in their lives. bloody nose Unresolved disagreements and a vengeful, self-centered spirit will destroy friendships, marriages, and families.  Threats, fighting and lawsuits are symptomatic of a people who churn within and are unwilling to take responsibility for their sinful attitudes and actions.

We would all do well to heed Paul’s exhortations to the church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27  Neither give place to the devil….31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 20:3 – On what hill are you willing to die?

hill you die onI searched in vain to identify the source of an idiom I believe sums up our proverb for today, Proverbs 20:3.  Unable to identify the source or the precise wording, I will state the principle in my own words: “A wise man picks his battles and chooses the hill on which he is willing to die.”

Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honour [honorable] for a man to cease [put an end to; desist] from strife [quarrels; contentions]: but every fool will be meddling [quarrel; break out in strife].” 

Solomon taught his son that an honorable man pursues peace, but not at the sacrifice of his integrity, while a fool meddles in matters that provoke strife.

A wise course of action is to weigh in your heart whether or not a point of contention is argumentrealistically something for which you are willing to die.  Is the conflict worth sacrificing a friendship? Is the provocation a principle or preference?

I have learned that some people are caustic, cantankerous and troublesome by nature. They are a source of strife everywhere they go—at home, school and work. They are a trouble to themselves and everyone around them. Realizing some people prefer strife, peace is not always possible.  In his letter to Christians living in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 12:17-18 – “Recompense [repay; render] to no man evil for evil [i.e. retaliation]. Provide [take thought in advance] things honest [good; admirable] in the sight [in the presence] friendsof all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you [as far as what is in your control], live peaceably [be at peace] with all men.”

Our passion and desire should be to live at peace with all men; however, it is not always possible.

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 14:29 – Patience is a virtue.

angerProverbs 14:29 – “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”

That the God of the Bible is patient, long-suffering, slow to anger and ready to forgive is a truth lost on many who wear spiritual “rose-colored glasses” when reflecting on their own spirit and attitude.  We are by nature sinners deserving of God’s wrath (Romans 6:23a), but in Christ the benefactors of God’s grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).  It is the long-suffering of God and His readiness to forgive (2 Peter 3:9) that is the motivation for us to be “slow to wrath” and ready to extend grace and forgiveness to others.

Solomon taught his son this principle of longsuffering and forgiveness when he wrote:

Proverbs 14:29 – He that is slow [patient; longsuffering] to wrath [anger; flaring of the nostrils] is of great [much] understanding [wisdom; discretion; reason; skill]: but he that is hasty [short or quick tempered] of spirit exalteth [offer; raise; display] folly [foolishness; silliness].”yelling

Solomon’s proverb is convicting to many whose anger is provocative, self-serving and exposes them as the fools they are.  It is the nature of godly men mastered by the wisdom of God to be men of understanding, insight, and discernment and not easily provoked to anger.

The apostle Peter asked the Lord, “how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).  No doubt believing his suggestion of forgiving an offense seven times was magnanimous, Christ answered Peter, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).  The lesson for us all is–a Christian has no right to revenge because the grace of God’s forgiveness is limitless.

I close this lesson on patience with Paul’s exhortation to believers:

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 13:1 – Attitudes are external indicators of the bent and direction of your thoughts.

bad attitudeOur society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists  deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse.  Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1 – “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.   His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of afather and son talk learner, unlike the scorner.  The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision.  He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures.  He is a slave to “stinking thinking”,  a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts.  Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.   Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as reentrycontrasted with the heat shield at its base.  If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere.  If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes.  A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.   However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart!  In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change.  Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference!  Not so! whats in your heart

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes!  Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your  attitudes (Philippians 4:8Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 30:32 – Were you thinking when you posted that selfie?

dog selfieProverbs 30:32 – “If thou hast done foolishly [disgraced; dishonored; failed; withered] in lifting up [honoring; promoting] thyself, or if thou hast thought evil [plan; devise; plot; purpose], lay thine hand [power] upon thy mouth [lit. speech; counsel; utterance].”

Solomon has a truth for those given to self-idolization—“thou has done foolishly in lifting up thyself” (30:32a).

Excessive, narcissistic self-promotion has become a way of life for Americans consumed with themselves, self-portraits (i.e. selfies) and dialoging their private lives on public social media platforms.  What was once the bane of secret diaries tucked discreetly in a dresser drawer for no one to read has become the fare for social media walls.narcissitc mirror

Some post selfies on Facebook leaving me to wonder what people are thinking when they post a picture best described as unflattering.  Adding to the mystery is that friends and family offer the obligatory “Like” to the disastrous selfie leaving the rest of the world wondering what you see that we do not see. Many selfies reveal what we already know—we often see in our mirror what we want to see!

I will carry a similar theme forward as we consider the second part of Proverbs 30:32 – “if thou hast thought evil [plan; devise; plot; purpose], lay thine hand [power] upon thy mouth [lit. speech; counsel; utterance].”

“Open mouth, insert foot” or “foot-in-mouth disease” as some might describe it, is the haunt of humanity.  An evil desire, thought, opinion or plan can rise up in the heart of us all, but it is what we do next that can save us from scars and scandals.

Man with paper

Man with paper

Solomon, acknowledging the conception of an evil thought toward another, exhorted his son “lay thine hand upon thy mouth” (30:32b).  In other words, before you speak or act in an unconscionable manner you will surely regret—stop your mouth and weigh your words.

Consider a simple shepherd’s warning:  The things you say and write will follow you and what you “post, like and share” on Facebook today may haunt you tomorrow!

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 17:27-28 – “Silence is the covering of the stupid.”

hold your tongueToday’s proverbs are excellent reminders we would all be wise to heed!

Proverbs 17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. 28  Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”, so it goes when you are in the company of a man or woman who will not be silent long enough for you to get in a thought of your own! Childhood play, classrooms, corporate and board meetings, and radio talk shows are all forums where gross ignorance speaks ad infinitum and men and women of wisdom and discernment learn to hold their tongues.

Verse 27 embodies counsel that is applicable for leaders, employers and those who would aspire to positions of authority and influence.

Proverbs 17:27 – “He that hath [know; perceive] knowledge [discernment; insight; knowledge to discern good and evil] spareth [holds; refrains; withholds] his words [speech]: and a man of understanding [wisdom] is of an excellent [precious; noble; quiet; calm] spirit [mind; heart]].”shut your mouth

Men and women of wisdom weigh their words and bridle their tongues when speaking and writing. A man of wisdom speaks with discretion and, when addressing a difficult person or circumstance, expresses himself in a calm, quiet demeanor.

Continuing the same theme as verse 27, Proverbs 17:28 serves as an excellent admonishment for those who “like to hear themselves talk”.

Proverbs 17:28 – “Even a fool [silly; quarrelsome; immoral; morally corrupt], when he holdeth his peace [restrains his tongue; keeps silent], is counted [thought; reckoned; imagined] wise [cunning; perceptive]: and he that shutteth [close; shut up; stops] his lips is esteemed a man of understanding [discerning; prudent].”

Lincoln-TwainPresident Abraham Lincoln and American author Mark Twain are both credited with an amplification of verse 28 with the following quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Another adage states a similar thought with a statement of the obvious: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”

For those who always have to say something, remember biting your tongue and saying nothing is not only wise, but in effect leads others to believe you might well be the wiser!

Finally, should you need one more prod to encourage you to hold your tongue, consider this old Arab proverb, “Silence is the covering of the stupid.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 27:2 – There are few things as repulsive as a man or woman who glories in boasting their own achievements.

It is about youThe Book of Proverbs is a king’s instructions to his son.  Solomon expressed  concern on several occasions that the heart of his son might be lifted up in pride. Born into a household of wealth and privilege, one can imagine how easy it would be for a young prince to be carried away by the grandeur of the palace and servants ready to do his beckoning.  Solomon urged his son to understand how uncomely it is for a man to praise himself [or as some say, “beat his own drum”].

Proverbs 27:2 – “Let another man praise [boast; celebrate; sing your praises] thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips [speech].”

There are few things as repulsive as a man or woman who glories in boasting their own achievements.  It is the nature of man to “proclaim every one his own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6), but such a man has forgotten the raw clay out of which he was self-centeredtaken.  Praise and acknowledgement is rewarding, but they ring hollow when expressed by our own lips.

Why is this self-congratulatory spirit so distasteful to man and inappropriate before God? 

Because it is not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of the devil.  Notice in the following passage the number of times Satan, here addressed as the fallen angel Lucifer, boasts with the personal pronoun “I”.

Isaiah 14:12-15 – “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

it's all about meHow much of your conversations with others is focused on yourself?  Are you given to bragging and boasting?  Look at your Facebook page, pictures and blog and be honest about where you tend to focus.

The ugly little secret is—others have already noticed how much of your life is self-focused.

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith