Words sting, encourage, dishearten, or sooth. They are powerful - dangerous as well as inspiring. In fact, societies are built upon words that shape the thinking within that culture. Having lived in the Philadelphia area of the United States for many years, the words of Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac ring in my ears:
- "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
- "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."
- "Well done is better than well said."
Words used in a family - at the dinner table, in the car, at bed time, in disagreement or in common conversation, establish the thinking within the culture of the family. I am aware of the discouraging words, as well as the words of blessing that have come out of my mouth - destroying and building up.
Words in a culture tend to fall into the category of wise or foolish. As I think about the world today and the words that shape it, I am reminded of the "sound bit" and "advertising" culture in which we live. These words are not usually edifying or building words. In fact, they often lead to mindless babble. Not much said is useful for living out one's life in a productive way. Not so the words of Solomon, known as the wisest man whom ever lived.
The first words of Solomon, provides us with wise words upon which we can establish our lives. He begins his book by saying that this book was written,
"for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding WORDS of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-" (Proverbs 1:2-4 NIV)
But let's face it, words are words; we can either apply them or despise them. We can ignore them or apply them. Although Solomon was wise, he did not always live his life with wisdom. The same is true of us all. BUT we can strive to live out words of wisdom by:
- Taking wise words seriously - especially from God's word and also from wise people
- Avoiding foolish words that lower us to the babble of rudeness and crudeness
Practicing words of wisdom and blessing on others
Let us commit to wise words this week rather than foolish ones.