The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain. ~Proverbs 10:11
When you read through Proverbs you will find many statements that contrast the words of the godly or the wise with the words of the unrighteous or the foolish. Why such an emphasis on words? Because words matter. They can build up and they can tear down. They can make someone’s day or they can ruin a person’s week (or worse).
The Bible speaks so much about the things we say because the tongue is notoriously hard for a person to control. James even went so far to call it “a fire, a world of unrighteousness…set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). Jesus said that our words reveal our hearts, “for out of the abundance of the heart [a person’s] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
So, the question is: Are your words a life-giving fountain, encouraging and edifying others; or are they a bitter fountain that tears down?
We should remember that this question goes beyond our mouths. In today’s world we have so many different ways to communicate—blogs, emails, texts, Instagram, Facebook, etc.—what we type or post matters just as much as the words which roll from our tongues.
Since our words represent our hearts, the place to begin to confront any bitterness or hatred in our speech and to develop our words as life-giving fountains is on the level of the heart and mind. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Spend time each day dwelling on the One who is most true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise. Spend time in God’s word, meditating—thinking deeply on who God is and all that he has done for you through Jesus.
Spend time in prayer, laying out before God your weaknesses and temptations in this area. Ask him for his grace and strength to overcome the struggles against your tongue.
Spend time around other followers of Jesus who model speech that is a life-giving fountain. Let their words and actions be an encouragement to you so that you might grow in encouragement towards others. Conversely, consider the things in life that weigh you down and cause you to falter. Minimize what you need to minimize and cut out the things you need to cut out.
Finally, repent of and apologize for those times your words have cut other people down. If they were words spoken in private, deal with the issue in private; if they were words spoken publically or on social media, then deal with them there.
Focus your heart and mind on the life-giving grace and beauty of God, and with time your words will follow as they develop into a life-giving fountain for others.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.