Let Our Words Be Few (Proverbs 17:27-18:4)

Talking too much will get you into trouble, while choosing your words carefully will improve your relationships with others and protect you from sin. This is a consistent truth found in Proverbs, the gospels, the New Testament letters, and really the whole Bible. As young men and women, a common temptation is running your mouth too much. People who talk a lot often end up hurting others with their words. When in doubt, stay quiet. It’s better to listen to others more than you try to tell them what’s on your mind. You don’t learn by talking, but by listening. This is what today’s passage, which connects the end of Proverbs 17 with the beginning of Proverbs 18, is teaching us. You will rarely regret not saying something, but chances are that there have been many times when you said something to a friend or family member that you later regretted deeply, either immediately or sometime when you thought back on the conversation. Your mouth is a spring that can either pour forth encouragement and praise or bitterness and meanness. Start learning now to control your tongue. God will help you to “let your words be few” if you sincerely ask Him to.

I can speak from experience on this issue. As someone who likes to talk a lot, I know that I have done great damage to others and myself with my words. This is a sin issue for me that I need God’s help with every day. When I am out fellowship with the Lord, I immediately notice more harshness and volume (more total words and more loudness, too) in my talking. But when heart is right before God, I experience the power of the His Spirit giving me control over what I am saying. If you struggle with taming the tongue, there is hope for you. But you have to want to beat this sin – it won’t just happen. You have to hate your ugly words enough to want to change, and then call out to Jesus each day for His strength in winning the battle.

The Text (Proverbs 17:27-18:4)

17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

18:1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

3 When the wicked comes, contempt comes also; And with dishonor comes reproach.

4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

Questions to Think About

  1. Are you known as a person who talks a lot or someone who is more quiet? Explain.
  2. Can you think of some things that you said to friends last school year that you wished you didn’t? You can’t go back in time to change your past (and if you could, no one else would know that you did anyways…that’s how time travel works), but you can change your future. If you start learning this summer how to let God tame your tongue, then next school year you can expect fewer regrettable conversations.
  3. Are you getting better at listening to others instead of just wanting to say what’s on your mind? How can becoming a better listener improve your relationships with family and friends?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Always Kind, Always Loving (Proverbs 15:1-18)

Jesus was always firm in His defense of truth and justice, but he was also always kind and loving in all that He said and did. Even in rebuking and standing up to the proud religious leaders who hated Him unto death, Jesus continually offered them forgiveness and mercy if they would only repent and believe in Him. He prayed for those who persecuted Him, even as they mocked Him while He was dying on the cross. Jesus told us as His disciples to follow His example. As famous Bible teacher Ravi Zacharias has often said and many pastors have repeated to congregations, there is never a reason for a Christian to be unkind. To be rude, bitter, angry, and harsh to anyone, no matter what they have done, is simply not the Christian way.

Today’s longer passage from Proverbs 15 is all about the attitude of the heart. If you keep close fellowship with Jesus, your heart will be filled with His love, joy, and peace. You will be able to maintain a kind and gentle spirit even towards the worst of haters. You will have control over your emotions and be a peacemaker (vv. 1, 18). Your words will bring life (v. 4) and wisdom (vv. 2, 7) to your family and friends. You will shine forth with Christian happiness (v. 13, 15) and love (v. 17). What you are on the inside will pour forth into how you act on the outside.

The heart controls the tongue. That’s why the Bible always urges Christians to take care to guard and watch over their hearts with all diligence. As you think in your heart, so are you. How can we do this? By getting alone with God and His Word in a quiet place each day and submitting to Christ’s Lordship over our lives. It is in the quiet places with God that He renews and transforms your heart into what it should be. If you sense your heart is off course today, go get alone with Jesus. It is His great desire to change you into His image. Are you willing to let Him fill you with His kindness and love today?

The Text (Proverbs 15:1-18)

1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.

6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.

7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so.

8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness.

10 Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.

11 Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.

12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise.

13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble.

17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.

18 A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

Questions to Think About

  1. How is your heart today? If you aren’t sure where you’re at spiritually, ask God to show you as you read today’s passage from Proverbs.
  2. Are you known by friends and family as a kind and loving person? Why or why not?
  3. Do you struggle to maintain Christian joy and happiness? Ask God to help you with this (I do regularly!). Some people just struggle more with depression and moodiness than others. But God wants all of His people to walk in His joy! Jesus came to give you an abundant life, even in the midst of trials and pain. Believe that today!

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Building or Destroying? (Proverbs 14:1-3)

Faith proves itself over time. How you live will show what you really believe. In Proverbs 14:2, the Bible observes that a person who truly “fears the Lord” will be someone who “walks in his uprightness,” while the person who acts wickedly shows that they actually “despise” or reject the Lord. The godly woman (and man) will build a strong family knit together by Christian love (Proverbs 14:1). But the ungodly person destroys their own home with their words and actions. In the same way, the foolish man (and woman) brings hardship into their life through complaining, lying, and gossiping, but the wise person actually protects their life by seasoning their speech with grace and kindness.

What kind of person are you right now? What kind of person are you becoming? Are you building up or destroying your own life? How about the lives of your family and friends? If you focus on loving and obeying Jesus, then you will be a builder and helper in the work of His kingdom. At the same time, you will lay a foundation of righteousness for your future family that will honor your Lord and Savior. The time to begin fearing the Lord with your ways is now, with a lifetime of Christian living ahead of you. Take the yoke of Christ upon you now, in your youth. You will never regret the decision.

The Text (Proverbs 14:1-3)

1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.

3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you do more building or tearing down of others with your words? Explain.
  2. Would your friends and family describe you as someone who “fears the Lord”? Why or why not?
  3. What are you doing now to lay a foundation for a future life of godly service to Christ?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Preventing the Downward Spiral (Proverbs 13:1-4)

Sins like to travel in packs. When you study famous Bible stories, you often see one sin leading to another and then another in a sort of downward spiral. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, for instance, he first became spiritual lazy by not leading his men in battle. He then coveted his soldier Uriah’s wife, then spent the night with her, then tried to cover up the affair, then had Uriah killed when his lies did not work. The whole sad story is recorded in 2 Samuel 11. Another example would be the disobedience of Hophni and Phineas, who rebelled against the authority of their father Eli and disrespected the sacrifices in God’s temple. They fell into immorality and idolatry and led the nation into defeat on the battlefield against the Philistines; because their father did not discipline them, their rebellion also led to Eli’s judgment and death. Their story is found in 1 Samuel 2-4. You might also think of Joseph’s brothers, who envied him as Jacob’s favorite and sold him into slavery after almost killing him (Genesis 37). A major reason that stories like these (which are historical events that really did happen) are included in the Bible is to warn us against the dangerous progression of unchecked sin in our lives.

In Proverbs 13:1-4, we see that the direct teaching passages of the Bible also warn us about the downward spiral of evil. Children who ignore and disobey the commands and corrections of their parents and other authority figures (v. 1) will often fall into violence (v. 2), gossip and lies (v. 3), and laziness (v. 4). Sin is a disease that corrupts who we are and all of what we do. With God’s power, we must fight a daily battle in our hearts to resist sin whenever it surfaces in our lives. Otherwise, we might find ourselves drifting down a path of more and more sin and the resulting painful consequences. Victory over sin can begin each day for you by deciding to submit to the authority of your parents and God’s Word. By closing your mouths and opening your ears to truth (v. 1), you will use your words more wisely and enjoy good results in your relationships with others (vv. 2-3). And by listening to the wisdom of God more and talking less from your own foolishness, you will have more time to work hard on things that matter in helping yourself and others (v. 4).

Doesn’t the upward path of godliness sound so much better than the downward spiral of sin?

The Text (Proverbs 13:1-4)

1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.

3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.

Questions to Think About

  1. How are you doing with listening to and obeying your parents right now?
  2. How are you doing with controlling your words? Are you getting better at listening to others and talking less?
  3. Are you struggling with laziness this summer? What can you do to better redeem your extra free time the next two months?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Thoughts, Words, Actions, Character (Proverbs 12:1-8)

What we think becomes what we say and do, and what we say and do becomes who we are. This is the Bible’s consistent explanation of the human condition. We are fallen and corrupted by sin, but by God’s power and grace we can change. Left to our own way, we will follow our evil minds and desires in what Proverbs repeatedly calls the “way of the wicked.” But if we turn from our sin and to God through faith in Christ, we will follow the good hearts that He gives us in the “way of the righteous.” Today’s passage from Proverbs 12 paints a vivid picture of the way of the wicked as “stupid” (v. 1), condemned by God (v. 2), and unstable (v. 3). The wicked person is filled with spiritual “rottenness” (v. 4), marked by deceit and violence (vv. 5-6), and “despised” by others (v. 8). Not a happy life that we would want! No, we want the blessed life of the righteous. We want to be known as people who love to learn truth (v. 1), enjoy God’s favor (v. 2), are firmly rooted in life (v. 3), and have happy families (v. 4). We want to leave behind godly spiritual legacies (v. 7) and be known as faithful followers of Christ (v. 8).

The basic theme of Proverbs is not hard to understand. Everyone is either walking in the way of the wicked on the path to death, or in the way of the righteous on the path to life. But biblical wisdom requires more than just knowledge. To be wise in God’s eyes is to believe His Word so much that we act upon it in repentance and faith. It is the doers of the Word whom God honors, not the hearers. Let today’s passage sink into your heart and direct your thoughts, words, and actions today.

The Text (Proverbs 12:1-8)

1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord, But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.

3 A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved.

4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.

5 The thoughts of the righteous are right, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.

6 The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.

7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.

8 A man will be commended according to his wisdom, But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised.

Questions to Think About

  1. Are you seeking God’s help in directing your thoughts and attitudes this summer? How can you tell?
  2. What blessings have you experienced in the past year as you have grown in your relationship with Christ?
  3. How has avoiding the path of the wicked protected you from bad consequences in the past year?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel