Today, we are going to conclude our series on wisdom. I am going to conclude with wisdom of controlling our words. Because what we say can reflect on how wise we really are.
Since we are down here in the South I thought I might give you some good Redneck Wisdom. If any of them speak to your heart, you might want to write them down.
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that experience comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ’n puttin’ it back in.
If you’re ridin’ ahead of the pack, take a look back every now and then to make sure they are still there.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try
orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
Never slap a man who’s chewin’ tobacco.
Always drink upstream from the campground.
Don’t kick a sleeping dog.
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.”
These are all excellent words of wisdom but my favorite and the one we will deal with today is this.
“After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him... The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.” As rude as that sounds it is in line with God’s word.
Proverbs 10:19 “Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Have you met someone who talks too much? They can be annoying like fingernails on a chalkboard. However, have you ever wondered if people perceive you as someone who talks too much? There are signs that we may be guilty of talking too much.
Think about the last time you had lunch with someone. Who did the majority of the talking? Was the subject more about you than you friend? Did you interrupt your friend because what you had to add to the conversation was so much more interesting than what your friend was sharing? Do you do the same thing with your spouse, or any family members?
How are you likely to begin a conversation? Do you often begin sharing a funny story from your life or an observation that is important to you? Do you prompt others to begin a conversation by asking questions about their life and observations? Are
conversations with you balanced or spotlighting your life? Are you boring people? Do people answer you with a casual “Yeah” or “U-huh” in hopes you do not elaborate farther? Do they get a distant look in their eyes as if their minds are wondering? Do they become jittery, looking for away to escape from you without hurting your feelings?
How often do you say more than you meant too? Do you let things slip out? Do you share an embarrassing moment and than realize it was inappropriate? Do you allow yourself to share a rude or hurtful opinion about someone and than regret it?
All of these things can reveal that perhaps we talk too much. The word “talk” in the passage related to something weighty or heavy. It was something dull. The type of talk that leads to sin is burdensome. It’s filled with those things that displease God.
We have a tendency to brag about a lot of things. We brag about our possessions. We brag about our families. If we are not careful, these things can become a source of pride. We can begin to look on these things with haughty eyes and our speech becomes more centered on the gift from God than the giver of the gift.
We must guard against the evil of comparison. The Bible says to be content in all things. Comparison destroys contentment. And when we find ourselves discontent with our realities we may be tempted to exaggerate through our speech and find ourselves exaggerating facts. In other words, lying.
The Bible says the remedy to this problem is to keep your words to yourself if they are not beneficial.
John Wesley was a great English preacher of the 1700’s. He was considered a rather spiffy dresser. One Sunday morning he wore a bow tie that had long ribbons that hung downward. After the sermon was over a lady walked up to him and said, "Brother Wesley, are you open to some criticism?"
He replied, "I guess so. What would you like to criticize?"
She answered, "The ribbons on your tie are entirely too long and inappropriate for a man of God." And she took out her scissors and cut them off.
A hush fell over the people standing there watching Wesley to see what his reaction would be. He calmly asked, "Ma’am, are you open to some criticism?"
She answered, "Well, I suppose I am."
"Well may I borrow the scissors for a moment?" Handing them over Wesley said "All right then, please stick out your tongue."
The Bible gives us a great deal of warning about our tongues. It says it is uncontrollable. It is deceptive and exposes hypocrisy. It sets fires that corrupt the body and crushes the spirit. It causes anger that allows us to tumble into trouble. It is a restless evil, full of poison. It has the power to create life or death.
However, in reality the tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth covered with moist, pink tissue. Tiny bumps give the tongue its rough texture. Thousands of taste buds cover its surface. Taste buds are collections of nerve-like cells that connect to nerves running into the brain.
It’s not this muscular organ that is the problem. It’s how we use it. We want to blame it as if we have no control over it. “Woops, that just slipped right off my tongue.”
No, you formed the words with it. You spoke with it. God says for us to speak words of wisdom and understanding. But if it truly is uncontrollable then God’s advice is “keep your mouth shut.”
Now to Proverbs 10:20 “The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.”
It was Europe, 1934. Hitler’s plague of anti-Semitism was infecting a continent. Some would escape it. Some would die from it. But eleven-year-old Heinz would learn from it. He would learn the power of sowing seeds of peace.
Heinz was a Jew. The Bavarian village of Fourth, where Heinz lived, was being overrun by Hitler’s young thugs. Heinz’s father, a schoolteacher, lost his job. Recreational activities ceased. Tension mounted on the streets. The Jewish families clutched the traditions that held them together-the observance of the Sabbath, of Rosh Hashanah, of Yom Kippur. Old ways took on new significance. As the clouds of persecution swelled and blackened, these ancient precepts were a precious cleft in a mighty rock. And as the streets became a battleground, such security meant survival.
Hitler’s youth roamed the neighborhoods looking for trouble. Young Heinz learned to keep his eyes open. When he saw a band of troublemakers, he would step to the other side of the street. Sometimes he would escape a fight – sometimes not.
One day, in 1934, a pivotal confrontation occurred. Heinz found himself face-to-face with a Hitler bully. A beating appeared inevitable. This time, however, he walked away unhurt – not because of what he did, but because of what he said. He didn’t fight back; he spoke up. He convinced the troublemakers that a fight was not necessary. His words kept battle at bay.
And Heinz saw first hand how the tongue can create peace. He learned the skill of using words to avoid conflict. And for a young Jew in Hitler-ridden Europe, that skill had many opportunities to be honed.
Fortunately, Heinz’s family escaped from Bavaria and made their way to America. Later in life, he would downplay the impact those adolescent experiences had on his development. But one has to wonder. For after Heinz grew up, his name became synonymous with peace negotiations. His legacy became that of a bridge builder. Somewhere he had learned the power of the properly placed word of peace. And one has to wonder if his training didn’t come on the streets of Bavaria.
We didn’t come to know him as Heinz Kissinger but rather as Henry Kissinger. (Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.)
Some of you may not know who this man was. He played a prominent role in the United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People's Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was, and still is, considered one of the greatest peace negotiators of modern times. He learned to use his words as wages to peace.
However, in the summer of 1986, we see how worthless the heart of a fool is. For it was in the summer of 1986 that two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.
We have the power to be peacemakers or pride-filled fools. With our words we can bring life to those around us by speaking blessings or destruction by speaking curses. Our words can be as precious as sterling silver equal to a lifetime of wages or totally worthless bringing forth no fruit at all. It is our words that shows our motives and in essence steers our lives.
Lastly Proverbs 10:21 “The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.”
A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two fallen frogs that they were as good as dead. The two fallen frogs ignored their comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all of their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the fallen frogs took heed to what they were saying and gave up. He lay down and died.
The other fallen frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped harder and harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, "Did you not hear us?"
The frog replied, “Thanks guys. Even though I am deaf, I could see how much you were encouraging me not to give up.”
Are you an encourager? The word “encourage” in this passage means to shepherd. We often think of a pastor being the one to shepherd. He is oten referred to as the shepherd of a flock. But the Bible says that all “godly” people are called to encourage, to shepherd, others with their words.
As we heard earlier there is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.
But a destructive, discouraging word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them spiritually. Remember, if your words are weighty and heavy, keep your mouth shut. If you have no words of encouragement, then sit in silence.
Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. Like mamma said “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say nuttin’”
We are warned that we can be destroyed by the lack of common sense. What exactly is common sense?
Webster’s Dictionary says it is the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions. For example, you are approaching a railroad crossing. The warning lights begin to flash, the bell begins to clang, the gate drops, and the train blows it’s whistle. Common sense says to stop and remain behind the gate. I am sure none of us has slowly driven up and around the gates because the train is not really that close. That is a lack of common sense and a stupid thing to do. The Bible says that stupid people are destroyed because of the lack of common sense.
But we have common sense, right? We would never do that. Last year 2087 collisions between cars and trains took place. 929 people were severely injured, 251 were killed. Two thirds of those collisions took place at clearly marked train crossings with warning devises. Two thirds also occurred in daylight ours.
God tells that it is stupidity not to heed the warning signs in our lives that are placed there by him. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to guide our decisions and convict us when we are making the wrong decisions. We know right from wrong. It’s written on our hearts.
But like at a railroad crossing we want to slip around God and do our own thing. We even have the nerve to do the these thing not pleasing to God in broad daylight. And when we get broadsided we want to blame God when actually it was a lack of common sense.
Three men were about to be executed. One has short dark hair; one has red hair, and the third has blond hair. (Yes, this is a dumb blond joke but it involves men so it’s okay to tell)
The guard brings the guy with the dark hair forward and the executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He replies ‘No’ so the executioner sets him up and then turns and shouts to the firing squad: “Ready! Aim…”
Suddenly the man yells out: “Earthquake!” Everyone is startled and starts looking around, and in the confusion he runs away and escapes. Seeing what had just happened the red haired man said to the blond “ I am going to try that tactic and see if I can escape.”
The guard brings out the red haired man. The executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He answers in the negative, so the executioner gets him ready then barks his order to the firing squad: “Ready! Aim...”
Suddenly the man yells loudly as he can: “Tornado!” Everyone is distracted and starts to look up at the sky, and the he quickly makes his getaway.
By now the blond haired man has got it all worked out. The guard escorts him forward and executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He replies ‘No’ and the executioner turns sharply to the firing squad and shouts: “Ready! Aim...” And the blond yells out: “Fire!”
Let’s quit yelling fire and begin using common sense. We know better. We know what God wants for us to do. Let’s do it. Let’s listen more and talk less. Let’s be peacemakers and not prideful people. Let’s encourage those who God has placed around us. Let’s be wise and live skillful lives.