Our words and actions have real consequences in the world around us to influence for good or wickedness, to produce wisdom or foolishness.
Throughout the Proverbs are numerous references to the speech of the wise, and how a righteous person is known by what they say or profess. In just the tenth chapter alone are some select verses that indicate how important and influential is the speech of the wise.
- 11 – The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life
- 13 – Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning
- 20 – The tongue of the righteous is pure silver
- 21 – The lips of the righteous feed many
- 31 – The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom
- 32 – The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate
By contrast, the mouths of the wicked and the foolish demonstrate the results of their perversity and foolishness.
- 11 – the mouth of the wicked conceals violence
- 13 – a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense
- 20 – the heart of the wicked is of little value
- 21 – fools die for lack of sense
- 31 – a perverse tongue will be cut out
- 32 – the mouth of the wicked [speaks] only what is perverse
In just these few examples, it becomes readily apparent as to what are the benefits of righteous speech, and also the consequences of wicked and foolish chatter. This is especially relevant for those who claim to be followers of the Messiah, for he was very clear in teaching the importance of what people say.
Luke 6:45 – “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.“
The issue then becomes not how wise or foolish an individual is, but what is in the heart. The things that we say illustrate outwardly what our heart is concealing inwardly. This principle is so basic as to be almost an embarrassment of childlike instruction. The context of this teaching of Yeshua is placed in the midst of this teaching on what he calls the “fruit” of the heart.
Luke 6:43-44 – “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit…”
The flipside to this principle is carried forward in the continuing teaching of Yeshua in this passage, as the secondary aspect of this fruit of the heart is applied toward actions.
Luke 6:46-49 – “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.”
So, the balance is not just what we say, but do our actions line up with our speech? Yeshua rightly questions the sincerity of those who claim with their lips to be obedient disciples, yet they do not carry out his teachings in their lifestyles: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?”
This question of our Messiah and Lord leaps across the millennia to our day and age and into the relevance of our daily actions, as well. In the words of Solomon’s proverbs, could our speech be considered a fountain of life? Is it the pure silver of wisdom that satisfies the needs of those who hunger for truth? Is it appropriate at all times so that it produces wisdom in others?
Are these the things that are in our hearts and overflowing to all others, or something else? Either way, according to Yeshua, the things we say and do will reveal the true contents of our hearts for all others to see.
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