Opportunity for Apples

“What your eyes have seen
    do not hastily bring into court,
for what will you do in the end,
    when your neighbor puts you to shame?
Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
    and do not reveal another’s secret,
lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
    and your ill repute have no end.

A word fitly spoken
    is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
    is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
    is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
    he refreshes the soul of his masters…

With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
    and a soft tongue will break a bone…
A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
    is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow…
It is not good to eat much honey,
    nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.
A man without self-control
    is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
    is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor
    and says, ‘I am only joking!’
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body…
A lying tongue hates its victims,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 25:7c-13,15,18,27-28; 26:17-22,28; 29:20

In order for words to be fitly spoken, there is much that must not be allowed to fit. The culture gives many opportunities to mush around rotten fruit. If people do not instigate, retaliate, and foment divisiveness, our circumstances do. Emotions drive impulses which end up destroying reputations and putting us to shame. Impatience and pride dominate, stoking argument, lying, and sarcasm which corrode civility. Everything deleterious is exacerbated by unrestrained tongues and a frenzied media.

But as the Lord’s children, we are called to be different, very much in that gnarling world but not of it. Against the backdrop of rancor and boasting, prudence and humility stand out as refreshing and winsome. Will we take every chance given to calm vitriol, infuse reason, build up, and show forth Christ’s grace and love? (John 17:15-17; Ephesians 4:25-32)

Where am I poking into another’s business that I have no place being? Where do I need, by God’s Spirit, to exercise self-control? What triggers my insistence on informing, reacting, and pushing my opinion, and what might happen if I held my tongue? Where will I be willing to pray instead of speaking, and watch for how the Lord will bring conviction, decision, or resolution so He might be the One trusted and praised? In what situations can my words of truth be most fittingly and persuasively spoken? (Galatians 5:22-23)

Lord, fill my heart and soften my tongue so I can be a wise reprover and faithful messenger. May my words refresh others’ souls and exalt Your name.

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