Speaking wisely and then backing up our words with faithful living is a powerful witness for Jesus Christ. As believers, we want to learn to control our tongues and choose the right words at the right times to help others (Proverbs 25:11). Sometimes this means offering a rebuke or corrective advice that a friend may not want to hear but needs to hear anyways (v. 12). This is certainly true if another Christian we care about is making sinful or foolish decisions. But more often, the right word is a message of love and encouragement to build someone up in their faith. This world is a rough and tough place that can really beat people down. One of the most important ministries of the local church is providing God’s people with a family who will lift them up each week. When we gather regularly with other Christians who really know us, we get to continually remind each other of the kindness and care of our God. Finally, sometimes the right word is to say nothing at all, but simply to listen and be available for people to share with us what is going on in their lives. Good listeners are rare and we all need them more of them in our lives.
We also want to live faithfully so that our deeds will support our words. Just working hard week in and week out and being reliable to finish jobs well will make more of an impact than we realize. People who consistently do what bosses, customers, and friends and family members ask them to do become sources of joy in their lives (v. 13). But people who promise to do things and then repeatedly fail to follow through with their actions become great disappointments to others (v. 14). As Christians, we want to be known as “promise keepers,” not “promise breakers”!
The end result of wise words and faithful living is a strong testimony for Jesus Christ. Over time, we may persuade even the most powerful and hard to reach people to change their minds about God, the Bible, and how they should live (v. 15). We often overestimate what we can accomplish in people’s spiritual lives in the short term, like with a week at summer camp or a powerful evangelistic event. Yet we usually underestimate the spiritual impact of an everyday walk with Christ. What might happen, for example, if you started every day this school year with time reading your Bible and praying to be a good witness with your words and actions? Why not start a daily devotion time this summer and then keep it going when we come back from the break? Let’s see what God will do in our lives if we slow down to hear from Him each day and then do what He says!
The Text (Proverbs 25:11-15)
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14 Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain.
15 By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.
Questions to Think About
- Who are some of the most encouraging people in your life? How have their words helped you in the past year?
- Are you getting better at saying the right words at the right time to help others? Why or why not?
- Are you known more as a “promise keeper” or a “promise breaker”? How can you become more faithful in keeping your word this coming school year?