By Louis Smith
Devotional Scripture: Proverbs 10:21
Central Thought: Use your words wisely.
During the first two years of life, a child learns the fine art of talking. It begins with 'oohs” and 'aahs” in the first couple months and then quickly turns to babbling. The babbling, in turn, becomes real words (like 'mama” and 'daddy”). The child steadily steps into the world of language. By the third year, the little talker can even carry on a conversation.
Speech is an inherent part of our lives. It provides us with a means of communication. It even supplies some of us with a means of ministry. But our speech can also damage and destroy.
Whether or not our speech benefits those who hear it depends on the nature of the one doing the talking. According to Proverbs 10:21, if our words spring from a righteous life, they will nourish the listener. The principle is easy to understand. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, 'Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (ESV). When the heart is right, speech tends to be right as well. Good, righteous speech benefits the people being spoken to.
Every person who ministers by sharing God's Word in preaching or teaching needs to keep in mind that effectiveness in spoken word is inseparably tied to righteous living. When the heart isn't right, the spoken word will become a hollow echo of what the Lord intended it to be. And it won't be long until those who listen will begin to see that something is missing in our teaching or preaching. What is the alternative to righteous talk? According to this verse, it is foolish talk. Those who speak out of folly cannot nourish themselves, much less anyone else. As a result, those who sit under their teaching or preaching will die for nourishment.
When Paul wrote to young Timothy about his responsibilities as a preacher, he worded his advice in an interesting order. 'Keep a close watch on yourself,” he first said. Then he added, 'and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16, ESV). We who minister in the pulpit or classroom need to keep an eye on ourselves first. Only then will we be able to minister profitably to those in the congregation or classroom.
We all need to take a serious look at our messages and our lives. Righteous living needs to back up the words we share with others. If righteous living is absent, our words become foolish words, and those who receive them will starve.
Devotional Prayer: Help me, Lord, to use my words profitably and to back up my words with a righteous life.
Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 24:1-25:46; Mark 10:13-31; Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 10:20-21