Tag Archives: Tongue

Proverbs 13:1-3 – Bite Your Tongue

Power-of-wordsYou will notice that Proverbs 13 continues with Solomon’s familiar form—using the conjunction “but” to draw a contrast between two opposing thoughts. For today, we will focus on the power of the tongue to bless or to destroy.

Solomon exhorts his son to be a “wise son” and heed his father’s instructions, unlike the scorner who scoffs at loving discipline and correction (13:1).   Solomon exhorts his son to consider the influence of a man’s words and conversation.  Words are powerful and the force of them, for good or evil, can shadow a person for a lifetime!   wordsNotice that a man’s words can minister grace and kindness or provoke violence and conflict. Solomon writes:

Proverbs 13:2 – “A man shall eat [consume; devour] good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul [desire] of the transgressors shall eat violence.”

     

The words of a good man are a blessing, like fruit to a hungry soul.  However, the words of the wicked alienate and promote strife.  Many families have suffered alienation of loved ones and wasted precious years because of words spoken in anger and haste.  Comprehending the power of words, Solomon exhorts his son to guard his lips and restrain his mouth for the sake of his testimony and reputation.

Proverbs 13:3 – “He that keepeth [bridles; watches] his mouth keepeth [preserves] his life [Guard your lips]but he that openeth wide his lips [a big mouth; rash with words] shall have destruction [come to ruin].”

A man who opens his mouth without weighing his words sows the seeds that lead to his own destruction (13:3b).

tongueWhat a practical truth for us all.  We would spare our loved ones and ourselves a lot of sorrow if we would learn to bridle our lips!  Too many families have suffered irreparable harm because of ill-advised words and proud, unrepentant spirits.

James 1:26 – “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 6:14b, 15 – A lesson concerning the words, ways and woes of the wicked

liarWe noted in an earlier devotion that the words of the wicked are a reflection of the evil that controls their hearts.

Proverbs 6:12, 14a – “A naughty [wicked; evil] person, a wicked man [morally bankrupt] walketh with a froward [going the wrong way; crooked; perverted] mouth…14 Frowardness [perversity] is in his heart…”

Christ taught the same principle when He said, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18).  A “froward” mouth [perverse, crooked, wicked] reflects a “froward” heart.  Listen long enough to what a man says and you will know what is in his heart (Matthew 15:19).

In today’s devotion we find that a wicked heart is laid bare not only by a man’s words, but also by his “body language”.

Proverbs 6:13 – “He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;”

Solomon identifies three physical gestures that mark the manner of the fingerwicked. The first—the wicked “winketh with his eyes” (6:13a).

It is said the eye is the window to the soul and I have found the wicked often communicate mischief by winking consciously or blinking excessively subconsciously.  Because the wicked “winketh with his eye”, it behooves us to note a man’s eyes.  Is he able and willing to look you in the eye?  Does he look away to avoid eye contact?  Are his eyes half-shut indicating emotional detachment?  Are his eyes warm and inviting or cold and heartless?  The wicked “winketh with his eyes” (6:13a).

The wicked also “speaketh with his feet” (6:13b).  This may indicate a nervous, rapid tapping of the foot or an inability to sit still.  Some might describe this gesture as indicative of nervous energy or an agitated state.

The third gesture of the wicked is “he teacheth with his fingers” (6:13c).  This is not a reference to modern sign language, but a use of the finger or fist in a threatening manner.  The wicked not only has a wagging tongue, he has a wagging finger!  Our 21st century equivalent might be making the gesture of a gun with the hand while pointing the index finger at another.

We have noted the words of the wicked and the ways of the wicked.  In closing I invite you to notice the woe of the wicked—his tragic end.

tragedyProverbs 6:15 – “Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.”

The wicked are by nature brazen, threatening and vindictive; however, they will inevitably face God’s justice—either on this earth or in eternity.  The wicked often come to a sudden and calamitous end.  Physical disease or accidents often cut short the life of the wicked.  Because his words and ways drive away those who love him, the wicked are often haunted by depression, loneliness and abandonment.  Desperation often seizes upon his soul and tragedy often marks his demise [“suddenly…broken without remedy” – 6:15].

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

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