Tafrohda was my Kenyan big sister. On her birthday, we would gather and sing. Then her husband would pick a psalm or proverb that corresponded to a significant number in her life and we would read it together. She would then pick the verse within the reading that touched her and that she wanted prayed into her next year of life. Each chapter of Proverbs has so many verses and wise sayings that reading three chapters like today is a bit overwhelming.
My sophomore year of college I transferred to the University of CA, Santa Barbara. On entering my dorm room, two things grabbed my attention. Our window looked out onto the Pacific Ocean!!! Secondly, my roommate had taped to her closet door Proverbs 16:1, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.” With all the focus of a sophomore in college, I pondered that verse for a year and still reflect to grasp the meaning.
Proverbs challenges us to distinguish between wisdom and folly, between that which originates from God and that which comes from the imaginations of humans full of themselves. The words of the soul are expressed through the mouth and can be instruments of healing or weapons of destruction. We need God’s inspiration to direct us. Proverbs also challenges us to distinguish between humility and sinful pride. Our tongues will often reveal the thoughts of our hearts, if we are centered on God or self. And thirdly Proverbs help us differentiate between God’s will and foolish action.
As our mouth goes into gear, I pray for wisdom not folly, for humility and not pride, and for God’s will and not my fame. Our mothers taught us to say when taunted by others, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me,” but it is not true. Words carry the power to cheer, heal and encourage but can equally reduce us to tears and linger in our souls for decades. The proverb reminds us that our dreams comes from our hearts but we definitely need the Lord’s help to find the proper answer of the tongue when we speak.
Is there someone in your life that needs an encouraging word today? Perhaps there is that difficult friend you need to pray for “the gentle answer that turns away wrath.” Proverbs 16 says much about words so perhaps reading just that chapter one more time and note how many times Solomon talks about our words. Blessings as you engage other today.