Your speech is powerful.
It has a tremendous impact on your life and the life of people around you.
There’s a way of talking that changes lives for the better and a way of talking that changes lives for the worse. And, I thought we might look at the characteristics of both, starting by working our way through some Proverbs to see what destructive speech looks like.
It’s bad speech if it makes sin look good.
If sinners entice you.
“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.”
This is what fools do.
In Proverbs 9:13, Solomon describes folly and says it’s loud, seductive and knows nothing.
And you know what folly says?
It’s, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
In other words, it tries to make sin look good.
It’s stolen water, but it is sweet. We have to eat it in secret, but it’s pleasant. And anytime, you talk about sin, as if it were something, positive, that’s sickening speech.
Two, it’s bad speech if it’s dishonest.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
And I wonder if you notice what was mentioned twice?
As he describes what God hates.
Lying is a big deal to God.
And later on in Proverbs, it says actually, that a lying tongue is an abomination to Him.
If you have a pattern of lying in your life. Stop. Repent. That kind of speech, kills, and God hates it.
Three, it’s bad speech if it hides its true intentions.
There’s speech that is tricky.
And this I guess is a lot like lying.
But words weren’t given to us, to conceal as much as they were given to us, to reveal and, yet, the wicked person, doesn’t want people to see what is in his heart, that’s like his greatest fear, and so, he gets good at hiding what he really wants, as he speaks.
Proverbs 10: 6.
“Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
Later on, he says, again, Proverbs 10:11.
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
And then one more time, Proverbs 10:18.
“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.”
Instead of dealing with the sin in our lives, some of us, learn to hide the sin in our lives, by the way we talk to others, and if that becomes a pattern, of fakeness, that kind of speech, does damage.
Four. It’s bad speech if it’s perverted.
“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.”
Perverted means literally to turn upside down.
It’s upside down speech.
The kind of speech that calls good evil and evil good.
Some people I guess.
They know the right thing to say, that matches up with God’s law, and the situation, and other people, are really good at knowing the wrong thing to say.
They know how to say things that are opposite of what’s pleasing to God.
Everyone around them.
It’s bad speech, if it attacks people.
You know, if you really want an easy way to evaluate your speech, you can just evaluate it in light of the law of love.
Is this word loving?
Wicked speech isn’t.
“With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor.”
He makes fun of him. Proverbs 11:12. He makes them seem small, when he’s talking to others.
He slanders them. Proverbs 11:13. He says things about people to others, not to help them but, to hurt them.
He’s cruel. Proverbs 11:17.
He looks for the moment he can say something hurtful about someone. Proverbs 12:6.
This is bad speech. It’s the kind of speech, we have to identify in ourselves, and put off, because of the damage, it can do.
It’s bad speech, if it is a pattern of nonsense.
Every once in a while, we just joke around. But that’s not what I mean.
I mean, the guy who is always nonsense, and tries to make nonsense, sound smart.
“Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.”
You meet words. Of course. Lots of words.
Just not words that are actually based on stuff that makes sense. You ever been around one of those guys? He’s just going, and yet, when you think about what he’s saying, it doesn’t make sense, and yet, he takes it so seriously, and defends it, and gets so angry, if you don’t agree.
“The lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the heart of fools.”
Fools talk. They get into conversations about important issues, but not because they actually want to understand. Anything. That’s not the point. The point is to hear their own voice.
‘“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.”
And so, this is kind of what drives them, they get some sort of strange satisfaction in speaking foolishness.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion.”
And you have to be careful around people like that, because there are people who have become skilled at making ignorance sound wise.
What they are saying is actually stupid. But they make stupid sound good.
Which is why, Proverbs 14:8 says.
“The folly of fools is deceiving.”
And we could go on. I guess, I can’t do all the work for you. But if you recognize how powerful speech is, you obviously, need to think a little bit about, what dangerous, destructive speech looks like.
And you can use Proverbs to help you.
It’s bad speech if it makes sin look good, isn’t true, is hiding its true intentions to get what it wants, is perverted, is mean, loves to talk nonsense, is quarrelsome, angry, proud, excuse-making, inappropriate, argumentative.