The wise believer demonstrates integrity of speech.
The proverbs of Solomon are a mine of information on living with integrity. The life of the righteous is contrasted with the wicked throughout its pages, as each proverb typically highlights a specific contrast between the two types of individuals.
Because the information contained within the proverbs is so valuable to believers, many have attempted to organize the proverbs into different groupings to try to bring out the common characteristics more clearly. One of the ways I have found to illustrate this is to line up the positive characteristics of the godly in a group, and then contrast the corresponding negative characteristics or consequences of the actions of the wicked.
For example I have chosen just one of the chapters (chapter 10) and selected some verses that speak to the similar characteristic of the righteous as having knowledgeable and truthful speech.
- 8 – The wise are glad to be instructed
- 11 – The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain
- 13 – Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding
- 14 – Wise people treasure knowledge
- 20 – The words of the godly are like sterling silver
- 21 – The words of the godly encourage many
- 31 – The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice
- 32 – The lips of the godly speak helpful words
Now, by contrast, look at the corresponding distinctions that Solomon made between the representation of the godly above with the practices of the wicked.
- 8 – babbling fools come to ruin
- 11 – the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions
- 13 – those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod
- 14 – the babbling of a fool invites disaster
- 20 – the heart of a fool is worthless
- 21 – fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense
- 31 – the tongue that deceives will be cut off
- 32 – the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words
This type of analysis and re-grouping of the text of Proverbs can prove to be very enlightening, and is a type of simple study that can be conducted by anyone who desires to learn more about how God expects his people to behave. Even from this brief example, it can be clearly seen how believers have a responsibility to seek the wisdom of God and to guard their tongues, speaking only what is helpful or encouraging to others. This is corroborated by the writings of the disciples of Yeshua, as well.
Ephesians 4:29 – Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
James 1:26 – If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
The integrity of the believer becomes readily apparent as soon as they open their mouth. If they have not sought the wisdom of God but are only speaking their own opinion or the opinions of others that they have not verified on their own, then they are little better than a fool who invites disaster or will come to ruin, as the proverbs above state. We should be reminded that believers have the monumental responsibility to be thoughtful and mindful about how they represent the God they believe in.
Instead, let’s focus on the positive characteristics of the godly as related by Solomon, and ensure that our speech is knowledgeable, wise, encouraging and helpful.
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