Wisdom & My Words

TEXT: Proverbs 18:21; James 3:3­10

Big Idea: “Language is a powerful gift from God, and we must use that gift to honor the One who gave it.”

Words have power. They can be great blessings, and they can do great damage. And not just words others have said to us, but words we have said to others ­ sometimes saying things we wish we could take back, things we have said in anger, out of our own hurt. No matter our motive, hurtful words cannot be unsaid. So, when it comes to our words, let’s admit that we need help. We need God’s wisdom. And that’s what Proverbs gives us:

1. Wisdom teaches us what to say.
Wisdom guides us in what we should say to others. Wise speech should be thoughtful and careful. (See Proverbs 17:4; 17:9; 16:28; 18:2). And grace is our standard for speech ­ it’s the power of God I lean on to obey and grace is the measure I should use in deciding what to say. By God’s grace, my words will point people to the truth of who God is and what He has done. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words reflect
what is in our hearts. My mouth changes when my heart changes. And that happens through the transforming power of Christ.

2. Wisdom teaches us when to speak.
It’s been said that God gave us two ears but just one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk. Wise speech is more than just knowing what to say. Wise speech is timely. It’s knowing when to speak and when to listen. (See Proverbs 18:13; 10:19; 26:20; James 1:19; Ecclesiastes 3:7). Wisdom helps us know when to speak and when to be silent. And as we are led by the Holy Spirit, as we have love for others, when it’s time to speak, it will be edifying.

3. Wisdom teaches us why to speak.
We speak to reflect God and give Him glory. God invented words to take invisible truth and make it visible, to take what is hidden and make it known. And God took that amazing gift of words and gave it to His prized creation – He gave language to mankind. the highest purpose of our speech is to glorify God and edify one another by speaking the truth in love. That’s why we have language. That’s why God gave us the gift of words – to speak His words, to spread His gospel. (See Proverbs 12:18­19; 14:23; 1 Peter 4:10­11; Ephesians 4:29).


For further thought:
● Recall a time when someone hurt you with their words. Has God has healed that, or is that wound still affecting you today?
● What are some ways you struggle with unwise or ungracious speech? How can the gospel apply to these areas and help bring about change in your heart?
● If you have current wounds from past words, confide in a friend, go to God in prayer together, and work toward healing. If you have inflicted wounds on others with your words, pray that God would give you the wisdom and courage needed to go to that person and ask for forgiveness.

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