Your words have the power to bring great blessing: ‘The mouth of the good person is a deep, life giving well’ (v.11). But words can also do a great deal of harm: ‘The mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse’ (v.11). (Proverbs 10:11-20).
Words have the power to destroy relationships: ‘Hatred starts fights’ (v.12). On the other hand, they have the power to heal relationships: ‘But love covers over all wrongs’ (v.12). ‘Love pulls a quilt over the bickering’ (v.12).
Control of the tongue is vital. ‘When words are many, sin is not absent, but the wise hold their tongues’ (v.19). Abraham Lincoln said, ‘It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt!’
Throughout this passage, the writer of Proverbs contrasts ‘the mouth of a fool’ (v.14) with ‘the mouth of the righteous’ (v.11). One speaks words of hatred (v.12). The other speaks words of love (v.12) and wisdom (v.13).
Words of hatred (v.12) lead to violence (v.11), dissension (v.12), ruin (v.14) and spreading slander (v.18).
Words of love (v.12) are a fountain of life (v.11a); they cover over ‘all wrongs’ (v.12) and are ‘choice silver’ (v.20). If someone has offended you, don’t return the offence. It is said that holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head. Instead, return hatred with love. Speak well of the other person even behind their back and you may find that your love puts an end to the bickering and heals the relationship.
Lord, help me today to control my tongue – to speak only words of love and life. Help me always to respond to any wrong committed against me with words of love.
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