When Words are Many
Tony Chute, Interim Pastor
Overview: Proverbs 10-31 offers wisdom on a wide variety of issues, but none more frequently perhaps than the power of the words we speak. This emphasis is consistent with the Bible as a whole as we are reminded of the power of God’s words in creation and as we experience the power of God’s Word in Scripture. Since the words we use are many, and because we will give an account for every word that we speak, let’s examine ourselves before God and consider our relationships with one another by looking at the use of words in Proverbs.
01. The words we use can be wise or foolish; can build or destroy; and can bring about life or death.
02. Our perception of ourselves is evidenced by the frequency of our words; the tone we use; the assertions we make; and the results we get.
03. Our knowledge of ourselves is revealed by who we listen to and who we speak against; who listens to us and who speaks against us.
04. We can have a clean conscience before God by revering His Word and by controlling our words.
05. We build one another up by using words that are honest, not false; timely, not rash; and pleasing, not perverse.
06. We tear one another down by spreading rumors; receiving gossip; criticizing others; and saying one thing but meaning another.
07. We can promote healing in our relationships by refraining from belittling; keeping a confidence; refusing to whisper; confessing our sins; accepting correction; answering without attitude; and providing encouragement.
Questions for Discussion and Discovery
1. Think of the power of words by reflecting on biblical texts and/or famous speeches in history. In what ways have you experienced the power of words, for good or for ill, in your own life?
2. Consider how our perception of ourselves doesn’t always match reality. How can our words reveal what we value and how we value others? Do you find yourself drawn to those who speak truth or to those who promote rumors? How important is it for us to guard our hearts by also guarding our ears?
3. Why do people find gossip so appealing? What is the difference between gossip and legitimately sharing information? How reliable are you when it comes to keeping a matter confidential?
4. How does our tone affect the way that we are heard by others? Can you think of an example when a soft answer turned away wrath (Proverbs 15:3)?
5. What does a responsible use of words look like for those on social media? What does a responsible use of words look like for radio talk shows or television news cycles? How can Christians become salt and light in such areas?
For Further Reading: John Piper and Justin Taylor, eds. The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (Crossway, 2009).