- Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Prov 10:4)
- He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (Prov 10:17)
Then this chapter went on to hit on a little bit of everything - foolishness, poverty, violence, integrity, hatred, wisdom, discipline, lying... Kind of like my brain on a normal day, you just never quite know where it's going to end up.
However, for all its randomness, I did notice a few words that seemed to come up quite often:
- The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (v. 11)
- The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment. (v.21)
- The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. (v. 31)
- The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (v. 32)
Ok - remember what I just wrote about God repeating himself...
On the one hand, there's the "righteous" mouth that is a fountain of life, nourishes many, brings forth wisdom and knows what is fitting. On the other hand, there's the "wicked" mouth that is overwhelmed with violence, is foolish and dies for lack of judgment, will be cut out and only knows what is perverse.
Stark difference, isn't there?
We hear a lot about the power of the tongue (in fact, I've had a post on that topic brewing around in my head for a while now.) But that is not what I've been pondering today. Today, I am wondering how do we become either a "righteous tongue" or a "wicked mouth"? How do get from point A to point "L" for life - or is it point "P" for perverse? Read with me:
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. (v. 20)
In the beginning of the verse 20,
we are, in essence, directed to admire
the beauty of a righteous person's tongue: it is choice silver.
If you've ever seen fine silver,
you will notice it shines
and will even have a slight "glow" to it
in the right lighting.
But fine silver can be tricky.
It is beautiful to look at
but only if it is cared for
and properly handled.
I did a little research over at www.essortment.com and
this is what I found:
"The luster and beauty of well-kept silver is unmistakable. Properly cared for, silver will last for many generations. With a little maintenance and a few preventative measures, you can even cut down on the amount of time you spend polishing silver, as well.
THE ENEMY: Tarnish is silver's enemy. Silver tarnishes when it's exposed to air and certain chemicals. Outside of regular cleaning, you can keep silver tarnish free by following these general rules of thumb:
NEVER allow stainless steel flatware to come in contact with fine silver or silver plated flatware. When the two metals touch, silver becomes damaged and stained. Don't wash or store the two different metals in the same area.
DON'T expose fine silver to foods for long periods of time. Never leave flatware inside serving dishes containing eggs, mayonnaise, or mustard. The sulfur in these foods will corrode silver.
USING silver prevents tarnish. The more you use and handle your silver flatware, the less chance there'll be for tarnish to buildup. So, don't hide your good silver away for safe keeping!
CLEANING SILVER: Silver should be washed after each use. The best and safest way to cleanse silver is by hand. It is the rubbing and friction during hand washing that shines silver. "Patina," the outer surface on fine silver is brightened and enhanced through friction."
I found this fascinating! Not so much in regards to my grandmother's silver, which I admit has been sadly neglected, but in it's relation to the state of our tongues. It reminded me of these verses:
- For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)
- But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart... (Matthew 15:18)
- The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
Our tongue is only as good as our heart and what flows out of heart affects our tongue. The two are infinitely intertwined and cannot be separated. In other words, like fine silver:
- Our hearts cannot co-exist with an imitation. You can't let fine silver and stainless steel co-exist. One is the real thing - the other an imitation. And while the fine silver is the "real deal" notice it is the "imposter" that influences the fine silver - not the other way around.
- Our hearts cannot come in contact with caustic substances. Put your grandmother's 100 year old serving spoon in a bowl of potato salad for a few hours and she will not be happy. The sulfur in the mayonnaise will break down the silver and make it look down right nasty.
- Our hearts must be "used"! It does not do any good to "shine" our hearts all up and then never use them. That is selfishness: beautiful things were meant to be shared! God tells us if we pour out love, compassion, and forgiveness we will receive even more than what we ever poured out.
- Our hearts need to be cleaned. Jesus does that for us. All we have to do is ask. And that is a daily event - bringing our sins and shortcomings to the cross. And it may also involve having a good friend helping to hold you accountable in those areas you struggle with on a regular basis. Silver is brightened through friction and polishing. If we never allow anyone to challenge us and our ways of thinking, we will never grow any "brighter" and our hearts will become prideful and dull.
But the most important point of all, summarizes them all:
- Our hearts must be properly cared for. Just like fine silver, if you do not take care of your heart- it will tarnish. And tarnish is our enemy! Tarnish can come in many forms. For one person it may be pride, another gossip. For you it may be jealousy, for me it may be anger. We all have our own forms of tarnish that we need to fight against.
What is flowing out of my heart? Is the "overflow" of my heart polishing my tongue into a beautiful lustrous finish? Or is it causing it to tarnish by spewing out toxic chemicals and bile?
Everyone of us has, at least on one occasion, probably deserved to have their mouths washed out with soap. But we could use a whole gallon of Dawn with bleach and it wouldn't do any good, if we do not deal with our hearts first. It may be a lot more uncomfortable, or even painful, to deal with matters of the heart, but in the end it sure tastes a whole lot better.