(Proverbs 25:11-12 ESV)
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.
(Proverbs 25:20 ESV)
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
and like vinegar on soda.
Solomon continues to offer wisdom to the readers. Anyone notice that one of the major themes are the Fruit of our Lips: What we say, when we say, how we say, and IF we say?
The “Apple of Golds” scripture has been a foundational scripture for me in the last 15 years or so. What it has meant for me is to be aware not only of the correctness of a response but if it is actually applicable and more importantly effective at the time of deciding to speak.
Out of these two scriptures, one being the value of a fit word and the other discerning the situation as it relates to the target audience, both highlight the necessity and value of discernment. The questions are not only “Am I saying the right thing” but “Should I be saying it at all” and/or “Does this person have ears to hear?”
An example: I have been in situations where, presented with a “spiritual” situation, I have the absolutely best answer in all of creation—and I spoke it. This answer should have caused Repentance of the like the Community has ever seen before. Angels rejoice and sing Hosanna’s. But—the word falls flat like a ton of bricks and it is as though the hearer never heard the Answer to their Soul. I am depressed.
What these Proverbs remind me is that not only do I have to store the Word in my heart so that I am prepared to give an answer for the hope inside of me, but I also have to be discerning on the situation: 1) Is this what the Spirit would have me do? Am I put in a position to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s Hand right now?; 2) Does the listener (the target) have a “listening ear? Are they too wound up with their own internal battles, the shouting in their head, to be able to hear?
This is a complex equation, one where practice and preparation must have some importance in my studies, mediation, and intention. I am finding out the older and more intent I am to practice having my words “Fit”, the less I talk—but hopefully when I do, the more effective my words are in God.
Father, In You and You alone I lay my tongue down at the Foot of the Cross. It is way easier to talk about “laying my life down.” That is an abstract at times to me. It is harder to ask you for the discipline to “control my tongue” or more bluntly “to keep my mouth shut” so I am not talking to hear myself talk just to be made much of concerning “knowledge.” I want my words to my wife, to my children and family, to my friends and church, to the folks you bring my way to be not just good words, solid words, but most importantly effective words. Help me to be aware that actions speak louder than words and that there are times where an arm around a brother is way more effective than words. I want to have ears to hear what You are saying. I want to be intentionally an instrument in Your Hands.