you. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you did it right, you ate just a little bit too much food. And so, not too, too much, but you know, you eat just enough and then you just sit around and you just talk to whoever the rest of the day. So that’s always fun on Thanksgiving. So, good to be with you this morning. We’re going to be in Proverbs chapter 12. Proverbs chapter 12, verse 18. We’re going to take a break from Matthew’s gospel for this week and do something a little different. Proverbs chapter 12, verse 18. Let me read that for us. Proverbs 12, verse 18 says,

There’s one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. So, I don’t know if you’re much of a history buff. I enjoy reading about history, probably not as much as I would like to, but it’s interesting just to see what shapes culture, what things have happened and how that influences where we are today. And one thing I think that you have to take note of in recent centuries

is communism, Marxism. Socialism. And Karl Marx, the 19th century philosopher, economist, he supposedly said, give me 26 lead soldiers and I will conquer the world. And of course, he was not talking about actual soldiers dressed for battle. Karl Marx was talking about letters. He was saying, with my words, I will conquer the world. And that’s a clever and witty statement until you realize how very true that was for Karl Marx. You think about, you know, he was talking about, you know, the great influence of Marxism, of communism on the world from the Russian Revolution to the not-too-far-gone Soviet Union to communist China today. So many countries that have been influenced and their governments are shaped by what that man wrote down. So, did Karl Marx ever wield an actual gun? No. Did he ever lead troops into battle? No. In fact, Karl Marx lived the majority of his life in great poverty.

Karl Marx did was he understood the power of words and he used them, for better or worse, very, very well. And I think as followers of Jesus, we have the great responsibility to really understand the power of our words and how we use them. And as we just consider in this proverb this morning in the book of Proverbs, the book of Proverbs isn’t so interested in giving us knowledge as much as it is interested in teaching us how to live right, how to live well. Wisdom is knowledge appropriated. It’s how to use the knowledge you have to live well, to live right before God. And what the wisdom of Proverbs is going to do here in our verse is teach us the wisdom of God in how we use our words. And as followers of Jesus, we have to consider, do we use our words well? There’s great power in our words. So, verse 12 or verse 18 again, it says, There is one whose rash words. Are like sword thrusts. So, the rash word here, it’s a thoughtless word. You ever said something thoughtless like, well, I probably shouldn’t let that out of my mouth. It’s a very inconsiderate word. It’s a word that’s very biting. It’s a word that it causes hurt. It’s a poisonous word. And Solomon says here in Proverbs, the word is so rash. It’s so inconsiderate of everyone else around him that it works like a sword thrust into the soul of the other. It wounds. It pierces. It’s a great blow to someone else’s soul to afflict them and to hurt them. Now, we live in an age of the Internet and social media, don’t we? And in the age of the Internet and social media, everyone thinks they should say whatever they want, about whatever they want, all the time, with little to no thought for the repercussions of what their words mean and if they should or should not be saying anything at all. Solomon says elsewhere, where words are not lacking, transgression is many. So I don’t think we really, in the 21st century, understand the power of words and their consequences. And so it’s really important to think about oral transmission or the spoken word. It’s very different in our time from Solomon’s time. So in Solomon’s time, oral transmission, that was the greatest method of how you communicated, how you learned. So there was no computers, there was no iPads, there was no emailing. There’s no… There’s not even paper, as you and I know paper. So hearing and memorizing was all important. One Bible dictionary says it like this. In a mainly non-literary society, the dependability of the spoken word was all important in law, trade, religion, marriage, and reputation. Receipts, agreements, and records had little general usefulness. Personal integrity and sincere speech were essential. And for most people, to self-expression and stable relationships. The words of poets, prophets, storytellers, and instructors were carefully preserved. So I think in a society like that, very different where words are used loosely, in our society today, here’s what was fully understood. What you say, it has an undeniable link with who you truly are. So here’s what Solomon’s telling us this morning. Here’s the choice. Here’s the choice you have with how you can use your words. First option, friends, is that we can speak words that are life-taking. Life-taking words. Because our words reveal not just the content of our minds. I’m just going to say this. It reveals the nature and the condition of our heart. Because a word spoken doesn’t stand on its own, does it? A word can’t speak itself. People speak words. So there’s always an intimate connection between what was said and who said it. So usually, people can get a crystal clear window. A crystal clear window into your heart based off of what you have said. Jesus says it like this in Luke 6. For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil. For out of the abundance of the heart, what does Jesus say? The mouth speaks. So you’ve got to go beneath the surface of that proverb and understand the greater weight of your issue. If what we find is that we have the capability to speak rash, careless words that can thrust and pierce someone else’s soul, you have to come to the reality you can’t just speak those words, but you yourself can be a life-taking person. Because words are very, very powerful things. We hold incredible power. We hold incredible power in our tongues. And we should, as followers of Jesus, consider the damage we incur when we misuse our words. And I think in all the Scripture, the Apostle James, he gives really a striking vision of what the life-taking tongue is. Consider it in James 3, starting in verse 6. He says, And the tongue is a fire. It’s a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird and reptile and sea creature can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so. And I think we have to hear James. James’ word on that, as followers of Jesus. Those things ought not be so if we’re following Jesus. So I think we could say it’s the height of hypocrisy if we say the righteous God of the universe is my God. Remember all this we’ve been talking about in Matthew. This is how interconnected the Bible is. If God’s kingdom, His rule and reign is in my heart, my mind, my life, everything that I say should accord with the righteous God under which I live. And when it’s not, and even as a pattern it’s not, what do I discover? I’m discovering I’m speaking from an, an unrighteous fountain within. I’m showing myself to be a fraud. And I’m not saying this. And I think when we say things like that, well, hey, I’m not perfect. No one’s perfect, but there ought to be a noticeable pattern of victory in your Christian life. It ought to be obvious that you’re going from one degree to the next and growing up in Jesus as your tongue is tamed by the power of the Spirit because in your heart you’re surrendering more and more to the person of Jesus. And what we find more and more when we speak life-taking words to others, others is this, man, there’s more in my heart I’ve yet to surrender to Jesus. I need Jesus to more and more be the Lord of my life. Because here’s what James has drawn out. When you speak a life-taking, hurtful word, you’re not just committing the sin of hurting the person, you’re simultaneously staining your own self in the process of doing. Jesus said, it’s not what’s on the outside, but rather what comes out of your mouth that defiles you. It’s not what goes in your mouth. It’s not how clean you keep yourself. What comes out of your mouth defiles you. So friends, what we need is a radical repentance in the Holy Spirit to keep us sensitive. Like, Lord, am I speaking words? Am I saying things to people? Do I say things about people that show me to be a great hypocrite as to who my God is and who my God isn’t? Is there at least a sensitivity to that? And I think a lot of times we get in these states where we’re very callous and we’re just going on. I need to slow down. Lord, I’ve been talking this way. I’ve been thinking this way. And I need like a sensitivity. Do your spirit, does this sound like Jesus in the way that I’m communicating with the people in my life? You’ve heard it said, sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That’s a terrible lie. That’s a terrible lie. My bus driver, when I was a kid, used to always say that when people would get, you know, he said this, she said this. Well, sticks and stones. That’s not true.

People take in their life because of hurtful words spoken to them. People live with months and months and years and years of grief. Horrible self-image problems because of a hurtful word that bit, that wounded, that was thrust into their soul. Friends, as the people of God, as followers of Jesus, that should not be so. When we speak like that, we make a mockery of the Christian faith. And because here’s what David draws out in the Psalms. David draws out that it’s actually God’s enemies that speak like that. Look at it in Psalm 59, verse 6. He says, He says,

So David’s writing this Psalm saying, Lord, I need victory from these people who speak evil. They speak evil against me. They want to tear me down. They think no one’s there hearing them. They think no one will call them to account. All the while what? They’re incurring judgment. And what does Jesus say in the Gospels? He says, What you say, every careless word, will be brought into account on judgment day. So friends, if it’s true that God is making clear in the Old Testament and in the New, that every word we say, every little word you say, you will be judged for that word someday, should we not take special care to make sure that the words that come out of our mouths, they honor God? Should we not have a working biblical knowledge of what it means to use our words well for God, the incredible power and consequences of a misspoken word?

Someone once wrote,

That gossip and a concerned friend is like the difference between a butcher and a surgeon.

Both cut the meat, but for different reasons.

And I think that gets to the heart of it. If you’ve ever heard of Amy Carmichael, she was a missionary to India for 50 years, did a lot for orphans there. She has a very popular,

it’s just a long poem really, it’s called If. I want to read you a few stanzas from it because it gets to the heart of it. It gets to the heart of what we’re talking about. She writes,

If I find myself half carelessly taking lapses for granted, oh, that’s what they always do, oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any, if I can speak in a casual way, even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can endure, if I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another, if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought,

then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame,

then I know nothing of Calvary love. What a wonderful description of what it means to have a tongue that’s in surrender to Jesus.

And so it’s on us, I think the onus as followers of Jesus, to consider, hey, all my relationships, in all my relationships, can I say I’m honoring the Lord with my tongue? I think about it in marriage. So often I think marriage is the first place where life-taking words can be spoken. Jessica and I were driving home from Kentucky yesterday. We had this small disagreement. We misunderstood. We misunderstood each other. And this accusation, no, you said that. No, I didn’t say that. You said that. And we’re getting all heated up in the car. And it’s like, hold on. We have to stop because, you know, words become knives that become swords that become guns, and you’re ready to win no matter what. And you end up saying things you shouldn’t have said. And so one thing I’m grateful we’ve always tried to work on is let’s just, let’s cut it off now. Let’s not, like, draw this argument out. Let’s not let it go on forever. Let’s not, like, hey, I’m going to win. Let’s have humility here. Let’s not be quick to speak words because when we speak words quickly, what do we do? We say rash things that pierced, things that hurt, sometimes things that people remember for a long time and they won’t forget even when we’re sorry.

It’s a humbling experience to have to repent to a five-year-old little girl all the time. Darcy, I shouldn’t have said it like that. Darcy, I shouldn’t have said that. Daddy was being rough. That was wrong of me. And she’ll say, do you want to pray to Jesus and ask for forgiveness? I’m like, okay, I guess I have to. Yeah, let’s do that. So, you know, there’s so many contexts in which you’re responsible for what you’re doing. You’re responsible to God with the words that you use and how you’re using them to hurt others. And certainly I do think, you know, and this is very relevant for us in an American context, yes, in the United States of America, you can say whatever you want whenever you want, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

And I certainly think about it in terms of social media and the Internet. You very well may be on the right side of the aisle politically. You may have all of America’s answers to all of our political problems. But let me ask you something. The way in which we say things, the tone. Do you want to be remembered as someone who stood in a very harsh, ugly way for your political party? Or would you rather be remembered for someone who spoke words of life? Would you rather be remembered for someone who cared about a different political system altogether? And I think a lot of times in the church, we look just as ugly as the world in the way that we use our words to talk about politics. So again, what we need is just a raised sense of awareness, I think, from this scripture, a raised sense of awareness. A raised sense of sensitivity to the Spirit, really having control of, yes, our whole selves, but certainly our tongues and the power we have within. Do you use your tongue well for the Lord?

It’s the power of our words. Look at the second half of verse 18.

So he says, There is one whose rash words are like sword thrust, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

So Solomon says, Yeah, there is one who speaks like that. But he says, Then there’s the wise. And the wise is one who has a tongue

that brings healing.

Brings, it’s the idea of carrying. There is a person whose tongue, their speech, what they say, it carries with them to where they go,


It’s like remedy. It means a cure. It’s a good medicine. So the wise person carries with them in conversation to the places they go. To those souls, he brings in good medicine to them. That’s the kind of person that wisely applies God’s wisdom to the way they use their tongue. So recall the purpose of wisdom is not to gain more knowledge. It’s not behavior modification.

Solomon, as a good father, he doesn’t want his sons, which he’s writing to here largely, just to learn some new tricks like a dog. Hey, great, you can use your words well. That’s not the hope here. The aim is that their person is saturated in the wisdom of God. To the end, their character is transformed. So it’s not initially even about what you say or do. It’s initially about who you are. And an inability to speak a life-taking word and only ever speak words, it’s like medicine. The way that guy talks when he speaks, it’s always like good medicine to the people that he’s around. That reveals someone who hasn’t just learned a new piece of information, but their heart’s actually been transformed by God. Anybody can say a nice thing when it’s easy. Anybody can compliment people that you like when you haven’t been offended, you haven’t been wrong. Perhaps it’s going to be even profitable to you to say a nice word. But to only ever speak a life-giving word, a word that’s like medicine, and never speak a life-taking word, regardless of the situation, regardless of the circumstance, regardless of what has happened, or hasn’t happened to you, well, that’s transcendence of the highest kind. That’s a heart that literally can’t do the thing because it’s been changed. It’s been conformed, not to the reactive nature of the flesh. And that’s how the flesh is. I’m going to self-preserve. It’s about me and mine. So when I’m wrong, I’ll wrong you. I’ll protect. That’s not Jesus’ way. He said, hey, with your words, with your life, hey, love, be conformed to the image of God. So Solomon says you can be life-taking in your words, or two, you can use your words to be life-giving.

Life-giving. The wisdom of God leads the people of God to speak life-giving words that reveal the heart of God. And the place where this happens first is in the local church. Before we talk about outside, it’s in the local church. So often, I think we forget this, the Holy Spirit’s method of growing us, encouraging us when we’re weak, when we’re in despair, correcting us when we’re wrong, it’s through other people in the local church. God uses us to help one another stay constant, stay faithful, to walk the path after Jesus. And so when you have, which we do, I think in our culture today, a lot of people who don’t want to make a commitment to the local church. Like, yeah, I want Jesus, but not His church. There’s no such thing as that. When you said yes to Jesus, you said yes to the local church. You said yes to the bride of Christ with all of its imperfections. And so really, there’s a lot of arrogance when you say, like, I don’t want to be a part of a local church because what you’re saying is I’m a little bit better than the rest of those people and I don’t want to bear with them. Friend, God will use you to help those people. And here it is on the flip side. God will use them to help grow you, encourage you, pray for you. There are 59 one another’s in the New Testament. Think about 59. Love one another, care for one another, admonish one another. So you have all these things, the Bible’s saying that the Spirit will use us to help our life-giving words to bear us up on the pathway. And yet, I think it’s arrogance to say, I’m not even going to be in a local church or committed to it that much. Maybe a comfortable relationship. That’s not what Christ is calling us into. He’s calling us into very real life of knowing believers and bearing with them as they bear with us. So that’s in the local church. And again, I think that’s unfortunately indicative of the 21st century church. Secondly, and very important, is we have the privilege and divine obligation to speak life-giving words to those outside the church, those who don’t know who Christ is, to a merciless, loveless, graceless world that’s caving in on itself more and more every day. And I think the measure, the degree to which we desire to speak the truth of Scripture, speak the gospel to a lost world, it really reveals how passionate we are about our privileged role in God’s grand redemptive story of humanity. He’s involving you and I in what He’s doing to bring others who are not in the church into life. So the places we go, the people we live among, and not even individually, but collectively as a church, are we seeing the great privilege we have to speak life into a world system that only produces death and despair? Yes, the world promises life,

but it doesn’t give it. Only Christ gives it. How do they hear about that? God employs His church to faithfully go speak life where there is none. And I think we can take this reaction, like, that’s great, I probably don’t share the gospel, and I probably don’t love people the way that I should, but I’m not against that happening. No one’s here incognito, like, I hope no one finds out about Jesus. No one’s doing that. But the opposite of passionately obeying God is just neutrality. I think it’s the apathy and the carelessness of seeing it happen that’s the real problem. And I think that’s the worst compliment we could ever get as a church and as Christians. Oh, he, she seems like a nice person like anyone else. That church seems to take up space on the side of the road like maybe any other church. Let it not be so, friends. We’re an extension of God’s love in the way that we speak the truth and speak life to friend and enemy, those who are like us and those who are not like us. Why? Well, because it’s natural to love people who are just like you.

It’s supernatural to love people who are different than you, people that you don’t like, because the supernatural person understands, hey, I was once dead in my sins. I don’t deserve my salvation. God graciously gave it to me. It wasn’t by myself. I’m married. And if God had biased contempt in who He gave life to, I wouldn’t get it because the Bible says we’re all enemies of God. So how am I going to exercise that kind of superiority over another? I should see others and say, man, I was in the same state, but God graciously raised me up to life. So let me not hoard the gospel. I think we’d be gospel hoarders. Like, yeah, I know it. Life is great, but I’m going to keep it all to myself because it can’t be that way. I had the chance to go on a mission trip

several years ago, and I wasn’t excited. I was excited to go on it. It was one of these things like, hey, we need a pastor to go. Can you go? And I was like, I don’t want to go. And I was just really negative about the whole experience. And there was this guy. He was newer in the faith, and we were just studying through the Bible. And he said, so are you excited to go to Guatemala? And I said, not really. I said, I hate to be away from my family, and I hate traveling on airplanes, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And he said, man, it sounds like you’re not excited about this opportunity God has to use you. And I’m like, that’s true. I had the opportunity to go and be a part of a team that will build a house for people that have never heard about Jesus. This organization is faithful to share the gospel with these people who live in extremely rural Guatemala. So it’s a great opportunity to be used by God to do what He’s called me to do. And here I am thinking about my personal comforts. So friends, again,

thinking about it inside and outside the church, what on the inside is it a desire? Hey, God, can you put someone in my pathway who I can disciple, someone who needs to hear your words? Could you use me? Is there a desire to be used by God to make disciples? And is there a desire for us as a church to say, Lord, what does it look like to love our city well? Lord, what does it look like to speak the gospel where there is darkness to people who have no hope? Constantly, I think we have to be asking that question and praying to that end. Lord, I want to be someone who, like Jesus, speaks life. It’s a privilege, it’s a responsibility to use your words well for the sake of God. For the sake of the gospel.

When we think about Proverbs,

I think that you can read them like, oh, this is a nice little nugget of knowledge and that’s like a helpful thing for my day and you can get them on a calendar. But I think we’ve made a really big mistake when Proverbs are just like these

detached, moralistic behaviors. Like, act this way and you’ll be good. Or act this way and you’ll be good. And that’s a little just pick-me-up to make me feel good for today. I think if we can do that with any of these Proverbs, or really if you can do that with any piece of theology and it not give you like a greater vision of the glory of God in the face of Jesus, I think we’ve missed the Proverbs altogether. Because Proverbs are not a short or a long list of rules for, hey, act this way, do this, don’t do this. Isn’t it true that you and I should refuse to use life-taking words that hurt, that pierce both people inside and outside the church? Well, yes, that’s true. Should we be quick to speak encouragement, speak life to those around us, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, those who are close to us? Yes, that’s absolutely true. But not because we have to, not because we’re supposed to, friends, but because it’s who we are.

The Apostle John says in John chapter 1, in the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light, and the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Friends, it’s a changed heart. I don’t love people well, and I don’t speak words well, and I don’t refuse to hurt others because I have that in and of myself. I can do it because I know the Word, Jesus, who is the outward expression of all that God is. Jesus has come and shown us what it looks like to love others well with our words. When Jesus was on the cross, at the very moment where Christ could have destroyed everything, everyone who put Him on that cross, when Jesus, who was perfect and spotless, could have called down legions of angels to save Him, what did Jesus say in that moment? He says, Father, forgive them. They know not what they do. What incredible humility in Christ’s words to bless, to love, not His friends, but to love His enemies. And it’s in following this Jesus and being filled with His life that my desires are changed. My desires are changed. I want to be someone, who I wield my words well to be a blessing to those around me, to speak the truth of the Gospel and shine light for Jesus. Jesus says, you are the salt of the earth.

You are a light on a land stand. You are a city on the hill. Friends, we are that city on a hill. As a church, when we learn to speak well first to one another and how we care about ourselves and then show the world, hey, this is what it looks like to have life and to care for one another.

This story is told of Harry Winston, who was one of the world’s greatest jewel merchants.

One day, he watched one of his salesmen show a beautiful diamond to a rich Dutch merchant. The customer listened thoughtfully to the expert description, but he eventually turned away, saying, it’s a wonderful stone, but not exactly what I want.

Winston stopped the customer on his way out and asked, do you mind if I show you that diamond once more? The merchant agreed. So Winston took the stone in his hand. He did not repeat anything the salesman had said. He simply talked about the gem as an object of deep beauty.

Abruptly, the customer changed his mind and bought the diamond. While he was waiting for it to be brought to him, he turned to Winston and said, why did I buy it willingly from you, though I had no difficulty saying no to your salesman?

Winston answered, that salesman is one of the best men in the business. He knows diamonds,

but I love them.

And there’s the real difference between a heart and a life that’s ready, that’s prepared, that’s passionate to speak truth, to speak healing to those who don’t have it. It’s not a memorized script. It’s not a rules of do’s and don’ts. It’s a changed heart that’s been given in the life of Christ. And in its nature, I mean, I can’t, I don’t want to hurt, and I don’t want to tear down. Even when I’m torn down, I want to love and I want to forgive and I want to be a picture of the gospel, Christ and his humility hanging on the cross for the sins of the world. And so my prayer for our church is that we be a gospel-proclaiming church. I know I’ve said that a few times, but I want that so much to be what we’re about. Let’s proclaim the gospel that we ourselves have found in our lives and let’s love it and believe in it and see how God will use it to overflow out of us, both as a church, a church as we are healthy, but also then how God uses our healthy love for one another to go outward and do a work for his name’s sake among those who have not heard it. So use your words well. Let’s pray.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Proverbs 12:18