Downtown Cornerstone Media
Oct 18
2012

Words

Media, Proverbs: Living Wisdom, Sermons | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

SUMMARY

Proverbs shows us how letting God be God to us effects every dimension of life. No matter who you are, where you live, what you do there is one thing you do all day long: use words. Beause we do it so much it is easy to underestimate the importance of our words. The reality is that there are few things more important and few things we depend on more every day. Words direct our existence and our every day interactions. Our words matter.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Proverbs is super practical – and convicting. The mega theme of this ancient book is wisdom. Wisdom is the skill of living, particularly in the gray areas of life. Wisdom is not the result of a technique, certain information, nor merely moral living. Wisdom, rather, is the result of a particular posture of heart and life that enables you make right the decisions. Our posture of heart and life shapes and informs how we think, see, act, relate, decide, speak. For this reason, Proverbs calls the reader to one particular posture, that is the “fear of Lord”. (awe, trust, love, hope, wonder, worship + dread of leaving) In other words, letting God be God to you will make you the type of person who can make right decisions where rules don’t normally apply. Proverbs shows us how letting God be God to us effects every dimension of life. Last week we looked at pride. This week we’re going to look at our words.

No matter who you are, where you live, what you do there is one thing you do all day long:TALK. Beause we do it so much it is easy to underestimate the importance of our words. The reality is that there are few things more important and few things we depend on more every day. Ex. conversations, phone calls, email, texts, blogs, work, school, news, driving, parenting and more. Words direct our existence and our every day interactions. Our words matter.

After wisdom, Proverbs talks most about our words (ie. speech, communication) – 90x’s. Our words are not neutral. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  This means that our words are not merely pockets of air vibrating through our vocal cords. Our words can be life-giving and life-taking. This is a foreign concept to us because we live in day/age where blurting out whatever you think or feel is a virtue. Ex. “I just have to let this out…I’m just saying what I feel…I’m just being authentic.”

Pr 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds back.”

Mt 12:36 “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” – Jesus

James 3 compares tongue to small fire that sets a forest on fire + a member that stains the whole body.

Eph 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up…”

Q: How much of the conflict in relationships, families, office, school, nations occur because of words? Most. How you speak can make or break your life. Our words matter. God cares about our words, because he cares about us and our lives. Here’s what we’re going to do:

#1 Power of our Words

#2 Anatomy of our Words

#3 Redemption of our Words.

#1 THE POWER OF OUR WORDS

Words have a certain power, don’t they? Remember the old adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s not true. Even when I was a kid I knew that wasn’t true. Words are more powerful than sticks. We Should never think “Oh, they’re only words.”Why? Well, because what is done to you is nothing compared to what is done in you. Words pierce. Words go all the way in. Words have a particularly power and capacity to change lives – for good or evil.

Words have the power to reveal your heart.

12:23b The heart of fools proclaims folly.

Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

What does this mean? Your life is flowing out from your mouth. Life does not flow from the outside in; it flows from the inside out. Its possible to cover up what is going on in hearts – but not for long – true nature of hearts eventually emerge.

Words have the power to take life.

12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The imagery here is helpful. When you stab someone, you can pull the knife out, but you can’t pull the wound out. Words cause damage that is not always easily fixed. Words can leave wounds. Scarring words: gossip, lies, rash, criticisms, put-downs, deception, slander, insults, sarcasm, cynicism. These words can be like razor blades flying out of your mouth into the heart, mind and soul of the the other person. Even more, words can not only wound, but they can kill. Words can kill people (murder, suicide) and words can kill relationships/community.

Words have the power to give life.

10:11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
15:4   A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Words may wound or worse, but they can also give life, encouragement, hope, affirmation, build up. Think about this: God designed words to be so powerful that He used them to bring creation into being. Good, encouraging, helpful words can be life-giving to those around us. Good words have the power to change the course of our day and entire outlook on life. Words are powerful.

Words have the power to define, explain and interpret (i.e. create).

This is one of the main reasons that words are so powerful. Define = Describe; Explain = Make clear; Interpret = Give meaning. Words are name things, explain things, give meaning to things. If you name a child dumb, good-for-nothing, useless they will spend rest of life working thru that.

“Words can be like toxins poured into the soil that are incredibly difficult to remove. They go on polluting for decades, distorting the way you see yourself and see others.” – Tim Keller

What words in your life have defined – and continue to define – you?

Words powerful: Reveal heart, take life, give life, define. Why even no words is powerful (ie. silent treatment)

#2 THE ANATOMY OF OUR WORDS

HONEST VS DISHONEST (or deceptive)

12:19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

26:18-19 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Lying is the largest category of foolish words in the book. The essence of lying is misrepresenting the truth in order to deceive your hearer. Why is lying so evil? Lying is evil because true, sincere, honest words bind us together in relationship with others. True words make trust, intimacy, relationship possible. False words conceal reality and result in fake trust, fake intimacy, fake relationships. If you lie you are destroying the thing you need most in life – genuine relationships.

PRAYERFUL VS COMPLAINING

15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

To complain is to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something or someone.  Ex. traffic, long lines, people not doing what you want, stuff breaking, never ending to do list.
Do you know what you’re doing when you complain? You’re trying to regain control – letting everyone know it. Our problem isn’t just that we’re not trusting God, we’re trying to be God. We often try to do with our words what only he can do. Prayer is acknowledging God is in control.

GENTLE VS HARSH

15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

25:15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.

To be gentle is not merely to be quiet, soft-spoken, push-over.
cf 25:15: Gentle speech is marked by patience and persuasiveness. It is convincing and compelling. We are harh when we just spout off, prove someone else is wrong, put them in place, belittle them. To be gentle is to be convincing, compelling and in tone/purpose/voice/motivation = kind. Test: Does the person you are talking to you think, “I don’t want to hear what this person is saying, but obvious they love me and its hard for them to say.”

CAREFUL VS CARELESS

10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.

15:23 to make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

24:26 Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Here we are called to choose words that are fitting, acceptable, apt (= timing, tone, delivery). Why? To ensure our words are understood. Some will say, “But its the thought that counts.” Yes, but the execution and delivery of our words counts too. We can’t just say, “Jesus knows my heart”

This means that our job is to adapt, adjust, find out what other person needs to in order to understand. Our words may be factually true, but spoken at wrong time or in wrong way or evil intent = careless words.

According to 25:11 we can have good words, but fitly spoken makes them even better. This means that our words must be intentionally crafted to situations, circumstances, needs of others. It is the speakers responsibility to ensure you do everything you can to be understood.
CRITICISM VS CORRECTION

25:12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

28:23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.

12:6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers them.

26:21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

16:27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.

Negative criticism are words that tear others down for our own good, so that we can be raised up. e.g. cutting remarks. outburst of rash, reckless, unthinking, sarcastic words. Easy to do. Hard to forget. We need to see critical words as knives and fire coming out of mouths into body and heart of the other person.

Corrective words speak the truth in love, for that person’s good, to raise that person up. Difference between being a butcher and a surgeon with your words. Cut to heal, not to harm.

TEARING DOWN VS BUILDING UP

16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

26:22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

26:28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Any speech that tears down another person is sinful speech (so common = “respectable sins”)

Gossip: pass on negative information about one person to another that you wouldn’t say if they were there. We love negative information about other people because it makes us feel better about ourselves (i.e. “delicious morsels”)

Slander: Exaggerating weaknesses in another person and then defining them by that weakness.

Flatter: Saying nice things to people, not to encourage them, but to use and manipulate them.

Bragging: Speaking highly of yourself for the purpose of building self up and putting others down.

All these tear down others and destroy community. All form barriers between you and that person.

Here’s a helpful question to ask and consider: Do my words tear down or build up my relationship with others?

The opposite of tearing down would be building up:

10:11 Mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

We need to take responsibility to be a fountain of life for those around us through our words. We should give so many affirmations, and encouragement as a pattern, way of life, that we gain a reputation for it. Work to be known for your affirmations and encouragements, not criticisms and corrections. Affirmations are like relational deposits in your life account. Criticisms are like w/drawals (cynicism, sarcasm, blaming). Ratio? 3:1 in general; 10:1 with those that are closest to you.

#3 THE REDEMPTION OF OUR WORDS

From here it would be really easy to say…“Get to work…accountable..do inventory…watch my words…”
But, will power is not enough. Just trying is not enough. Behavior modification is not enough. Look at James 3:8 “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison…” The point is that our word problems cannot be solved by normal human means. Our word problems are worship problems.

12:23b The heart of fools proclaims folly.

How does this work? The more your heart is captured by God and what he has done for you in Jesus the more your words will change. How do you stop complaining, gossiping, poison, critical, slander? You need to hear a more powerful word than those words.

At Jesus’ baptism a voice comes from heaven…”You are my son and with you I am well pleased…” By faith in Christ he says that to us. 
“To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Jn 1:12
Those words have to loud in your heart if your words are going to change. This requires that you are keenly aware of your darkness, your sin, your folly.  I hope no one is saying, “Well, I’m a pretty good person after all.” Our words condemn us, don’t they? At the same time, keenly aware of his undeserved favor, love, forgiveness of sin, adoption.

Truth: You will speak out of your acceptance or you will speak out of your rejection.Our words are directly connected to our sense of acceptance or rejection. What is on your lips is on your heart. Which voice is driving you? Are you trying to prove yourself to yourself, to God or others? Some of us living off old tapes: “you’re too much” “lazy” “good for nothing” “underachieving” “try harder” Some of us living off old tapes that say the opposite that are just as poisenous: “you’re amazing” “better than everyone else” “you’re one in a million”

Gospel quiets our pride and pain. Jesus, on the cross cried out to the Father “Why have you forsaken me?” = “Why are you not speaking?” He got the cosmic silent treatment from God the Father that we deserve b/c of our sin. Because he took the penalty for you, you can now hear God say to you “I am delighted in you, you are my child”

To the degree that news captures, captivates and resonates with your sould – to that degree – you don’t need to lie, slander, insult, criticize, etc. The gospel sets us free to hear and say words that are honest, true, gentle, careful, that build up. Why? B/c that’s how God has dealt with us in Jesus. Those words are gospel words. We’re gospel people. Jesus is the Word who is the only hope for our words.

Book Recommendations:
War of Words, Paul Tripp
Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges
Practicing Affirmation, Sam Crabtree

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