Formations lesson for August 18: Wise Talk
July 26 2002 by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 18:21; 16:23-30

Formations lesson for August 18: Wise Talk | Friday, July 26, 2002

Friday, July 26, 2002

Formations lesson for August 18: Wise Talk

By Haven Parrott Proverbs 18:21; 16:23-30

Mama always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." In the movie "Steel Magnolias," Olympia Dukakis' sharp-tongued character twists mama's advice thusly: "If you can't say something nice, honey, then just come on over and sit by me."

We chuckle at the line because it's an invitation we've all issued or responded to at one time or another. But even when sugar-coated with a delightful southern drawl, the lethal weapon which resides in our mouth is prone to woefully misfire, especially in the context of sharing prayer requests or when commenting, with piously-raised eyebrows, about sister so and so's thus and such.

There are countless arenas in which we feel justified to utter a little harmless gossip. "Harmless gossip" - now that's an oxymoron.

The tongue has the power to savagely slice down self-esteem and, with cruel efficiency, dice up dreams. The little muscle can build walls between spouses and drive them to live in separate houses. Venomous words can ruin someone's reputation or even hold hostage a nation.

Words are enormously powerful. Reckless, thoughtless, heartless words will not be overlooked by the living Word. "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, that shall render account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned" (Matt.12:36,37).

The mouth reveals the heart Thanks to World War II, I have cousins in Michigan. (My Daddy, a farm boy from Bertie County, and my Mama, who grew up in a big stone house just outside of Clio, Michigan, met and married while he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago. They've lived in North Carolina for the past 56 years.) During every summer of my childhood and adolescence, our family trekked north to see Mama's kin.

My northern cousins could be counted on to make the same request of me, over and over, for the duration of our visit: "Say something, Haven. Just talk." They weren't asking for words of wit or wisdom, they just wanted to hear the twang of my voice. My southern accent was a huge source of entertainment for them!

You can tell where someone's from by the way they speak, and you can tell what's in their heart by what they say: "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Matt. 12:34).

We who identify ourselves by Christ's name are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) - whether we like it or not, whether we act like it or not, whether we talk like it or not. So the question is never: "Are we ambassadors for Christ?" The question is: "As ambassadors for Christ, how well do we represent our King?"

The words we use betray whether He rules in our hearts or merely resides there. Proverbs 16:23 affirms this truth: "A wise man's heart guides his mouth and his lips promote instruction."

Do our words attract others to Christ or alienate them from Him? Do our tongues persuade or pound? Do our lips drip with grace or drool with damning drivel?

It was said of Jesus, whose words were spirit-empowered and straight from scripture, "And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips" (Luke 4:22).

Let's take our cues from Christ and make sure that our words are spirit-empowered and informed by scripture. Better that the words which fall from our lips should leave folks wondering than wary or, worse, wounded.

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7/26/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Proverbs 18:21; 16:23-30 | with 0 comments
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