A wicked, evil heart will pour forth wicked, evil words. As Jesus said, trees are known by their fruit; by people’s words we see who they are. Today Proverbs shows us that hypocrites (false people) slander and destroy their neighbors with unkind, unhelpful criticism (Proverbs 11:9a, 12a). If they are not stopped, such gossips can ruin churches and Christian schools and organizations (v. 11b). These evil people enjoy revealing secrets and stirring up controversy and trouble (v. 13a). When they leave a church or school, either by choice or by death, the people who knew them actually celebrate (v. 10b). Ouch!
By contrast, the righteous person quietly gathers real knowledge and wisdom that they use to help and build others up (vv. 9b, 11a). Such godly people can be trusted to keep secrets (v. 13b). They have good self-control over what they say, using their words to spread peace (v. 12b). For these reasons, other people love them and celebrate their presence in churches and schools (v. 10a).
If you are like me, today’s passage will break you down and make you seek God’s forgiveness for your careless words. This is the work of God’s Word and Spirit. The Spirit convicts us of our sin as we read Scripture. We are humbled to think about the effects of things we have said, we pray for God’s forgiveness, and then we ask for His help in controlling our tongues better and using our words to help and build rather than hurt and destroy. May our hearts be clean and our words be kind and encouraging today.
The Text (Proverbs 11:9-13)
9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
12 He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace.
13 A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.
Questions to Think About
- How are you doing with controlling your words this summer? Are you building people up or engaging in a lot of idle gossip?
- Do people celebrate when you show up at church, school, and other places? Or do they celebrate when you leave? Explain.
- Do you notice having better control over your tongue when you are spending more time in God’s Word? Why do you think this is the case?