“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” states Proverbs 25:11 Proverbs 25:11A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
American King James Version×. Words that are perfect for the occasion promote stunning impact with lasting value. Is that impact good or bad?
For mean-spirited impact, remember the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle. After Quayle stated that he had “as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency,” Bentsen pounced on him with, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Bentzen had zinged out the perfect put-down most people dream of scoring, and when Quayle had no response, it sealed his political fate.
Truly, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
American King James Version×).
Paul taught in Ephesians 4:15 Ephesians 4:15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version×: “Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Applying Paul’s instructions to our words, God demands that all of our words must not only be true, but also must meet His standard of showing love to Him and our fellow man. We are responsible to every member of the body (all mankind eventually). For each and every word, are we building up and promoting love? Or are we tearing down and hindering?
In a fascinating book called Words That Work—It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear, Dr. Frank Lunz writes: “You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart.”
The first resurrection may not be that far off, when in the twinkling of an eye, we become members of the God family—you and me suddenly expected to have every word we say or write be God-like. God’s words are described in Psalms 12:6 Psalms 12:6The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
American King James Version×: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” James said in his “tongues chapter” (James 3) that we need “the wisdom that is from above” which is “first pure” and “willing to yield” (verse 17). James said to ask God for this wisdom (James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×).
Rejoice, fellow wordsmiths! We can “speak the truth in love” right now with God’s help.