Summary: We have the glorious privilege to choose our words. This privilege is one of the main reasons we are to gain wisdom. The righteous speak wise words. Thus they are fitting or appropriate & give life to people & situations.
PROVERBS 10: 11-14, 18-21, 31-32
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
These verses address the subject of talking. Speech is one of the most distinguishing gifts of man. The faculty of speech offers immense influence either for good or evil. It is the principle channel by which we will affect people and the world. It is by speech that we communicate our thoughts to each other, carry on business, and improve our knowledge and learning.
We have the glorious privilege to choose our words. This privilege is one of the main reasons we are to gain wisdom. The righteous speak wise words. Thus they are fitting or appropriate (Prov. 10:14) and give life to people and situations. [It's not the duration of your life that counts. It's the devotion of your life—how intense you are in serving the Lord and giving yourself to Him that matters.]
We are going to skip our way through the rest of the verses in Chapter 10 that deal with speech. These verses helps us see and understand by contrasting right behavior with wrong behavior, the right use of speech with the wrong use of speech.
I. Some Contrasts of the Righteous and the Wicked, 11-12.
II. Some Results of Refusing Wisdom, 13-14.
III. Some Proper and Wrong Uses of Speech, 18-21.
IV. Some Words of Wisdom / Discernment, 31-32.
Verse11 helps us understand interpersonal relations and distinguish between people better. "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence."
The righteous speak wise words. The words of a righteous (and wise) person are like a fountain of life (13:14; 14:27; 16:22; also note 18:4). His good, pure, vigorous words of wisdom are as refreshing as a cool spring to a weary desert traveler. The words of the righteous are a source of life-giving spiritual vitality. Words of truth and love are the means by which God refreshes and pour life into the souls of people.
There is no true peace in the words of those full of strife. Violence overwhelms their mouth. Since the word for "overwhelms" can be translated "covers" (as it is in v. 12), the idea is either that his mouth conceals or deceptively hides violence (niv), or that violence characterizes what a person says. Jesus stated, "The evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart" (Luke 6:45).
What motivates you, anger or truth, hatred or love, folly or wisdom?
The strong contrast is made again in verse12. "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions."
Hatred results in dissension (6:14) because people who despise each other can hardly work or live together in peace. The stirring or raising up of dissensions suggests the gossip (6:19b) who is hated by Yahweh (6:16-19). If you hate someone you look for excuses to bad mouth him or start in on him. This fiend is at work everywhere, in homes, offices, politics and churches. It is like a subterraneous fire that smolders out disgusts, dislikes, envyings, coldness and selfishness.
Love contributes toward peace because it covers or forgives the faults of others (17:9). It does not dwell on those faults (1 Cor. 13:5; James 5:20; 1 Peter 4:8). The Hebrew word translated "covereth" is kacah, which means "to overwhelm" (Proverbs 10:6, 11). A wicked one's words are covered over with violence, but a righteous person covers up wrongs by forgiving the wrongdoers. When we see shortcomings in others, the solution is to overwhelm them with love. For we who have been forgive so much must forgive others (Col. 3:18).
A promoter of strife magnifies the faults of other (and we all have them). If you love someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. If you hate someone, you don't. Love covers a multitude of sins [Prov 17:9; 1 Cor 13:4–7; James 5:20; 1 Pet 4:8].
The message of Jesus is simple yet astounding: Love your enemies. Do good to those who mistreat you. Repay evil with kindness. When Christians live by these principles, he will keep his heart free of hatred no matter, how others feel toward him.
Steve Estes reported a remarkable example of this in the Wyclffe Bible Translator. In January 1981, Colombian rebels kidnaped Chet Bitterman, shot him, and left his body in a hijacked bus. Imagine how his parents and loved ones must have felt at the senseless death of this young man!
But in April 1982 as a demonstration of international good will, the churches and civic groups of Bitterman's native area, Lancaster County Pennsylvania gave an ambulance to the state of Meta in Colombia, where the young linguist was killed.
Bitterman's Parents traveled to Colombia for the presentation of the ambulance. At the ceremony his mother explained, " We are able to do this because God has taken the hatred from our hearts."