Proverbs 12:17-28 | Righteous Truth-Telling: Do Your Words Soothe or Slay?

by | May 11, 2021

READ Proverbs 12:17-28

“There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword;
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
(Proverbs 12:18

Words matter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Jesus Himself said that one day everyone will have to give an account for every idle word they have spoken (Matt. 12:36).

Every. Single. One.

The book of James tells us how great an effect words can have—how they can set a large forest ablaze. Yes, words matter indeed.

As followers of Christ, part of our mission is to speak the truth to one another, to build each other up in the Faith. A part of that means confronting each other when there is sin. Another part is correcting another’s misunderstanding of Scripture. And yet another part is offering helpful advice. In each of these there is a right way and a wrong way. Even if you (as the brother who sees the truth clearly) have the knowledge, the helpful nugget of truth, the gem that might even turn someone’s life around it’s all in the delivery. In other words, it’s not just what you say but HOW you say it. As the writer of Proverbs says, words can pierce or heal. Often times, we as Christians, convinced of the truth of the knowledge that we have, can fall into a type of pride whereby we think we know better than someone else, and even in our best intentions of helping a brother we do more harm than good with our instructive and even confrontational words. We tell ourselves, “The important thing is the message. It’s less important how I deliver it.”

But that’s a lie we tell ourselves.

First of all, Proverbs warns us not to be wise in our own eyes (3:7), which is another way of saying “Don’t be too sure about what you THINK you know. Approach even your knowledge with an attitude of humility and an understanding that you may not be seeing the bigger picture.”

Second, when speaking truth to another we should approach our brother/sister WITH LOVE, seeking healing, repentance, openness, things that are in line with shalom, a wholesome and holistic peace (Eph. 4:15).

Let us remember what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a rebuke and approach the person with tenderness and care, for that is often how God’s Spirit deals with us when we are in need of correction.

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