‘A Generation that Values Words’
Text: Proverbs 11:12;
Sermon in a Sentence: the most Biblical way to value words is by holding your peace.
Intro- Some 19 times in the book of Proverbs the ‘tongue’ and the ‘power of the tongue’ is referenced. Scripture makes it clear that despite its size the tongue is perhaps the most powerful member of the body. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. –Proverbs 18:21. James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Illustration: On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. The quaint stone bears an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look closely. The faint etchings read:
Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, / lies Arabella Young, / Who on the twenty-fourth of May, / began to hold her tongue.
Culture of Today: our culture today, like with so many things, is completely opposite of what the Bible says concerning words and the value of words. American culture has glorified practice of speaking first, speaking fast, speaking loud and sometime later think. Likewise our culture has made heroic the practice of always speaking one’s mind. Both in and out of church, people glorify and make it a point of pride to say whatever they think. Furthermore, we have a generation of youth that have been indoctrinated with the mentality of – ‘speak your mind, there is no absolute, no right or wrong, everyone has their right’.
The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for the immaturity of their conversation, and the many ways in which they failed to value the words which they spoke.
Scripture emphasizes the strength, the power of the tongue, and the both positive and negative potential our words possess. Words are a very valuable commodity! Far too often though we only recognize their value when spoken, we fail to see what Scripture points out that there is great value in silence. There is great power in those unspoken words!
The most Biblical way you can value your words is to – Hold Your Peace.
Pr 11:12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. 13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
There is one Hebrew word from which this phrase is translated, and the Hebrew word is khaw-rash’. This word appears some 66 times in the Old Testament, most often having to do with this idea of a person holding their peace. This word means to ‘keep silent’, ‘to be still’, ‘hold tongue’, ‘speak not a word’.
There are several important things to consider from this first word of the phrase. The image of this phrase is that of a person placing his hand around his tongue and holding it tight. Now this imagery may seem harsh to us, but it is declared absolutely necessary in Scripture.
Jas 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Jas 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
1Pe 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
The imagery of a man holding tight his tongue is so evident in the New Testament. James makes it quite clear that no man can tame the tongue. The word ‘tame’ here is the word dam-ad’-zo, and we see it pictured for us so well in Mark 5:4- Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
It is absolutely necessary to hold the tongue as Proverbs says, because the tongue can not be tamed. Just as the man possessed by a legion of demons could not be chained down and tamed, our tongue is a member that will never be tamed. Because of this God in his word gives us the necessary action that must be taken, we must hold our peace!
Illustration: You may think you’re better off when you tell someone off, but you’re not, according to research compiled by psychologist-author Gary Emery. “Although a whole school of thought recommends that you verbally express your hostility,” he reports in his book, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress, “a great deal of recvent research has found the opposite to be the case. Researchers have found that freely venting your anger corrodes relationships and breeds more anger, not less. – from USA Today.
We must recognize that this command applies to us, it applies to me, it applies to you! The book of Proverbs is the book of wisdom, it is packed full of wisdom for daily living. The words of Proverbs 11:12 are not just good words, they are wisdom you must choose to apply to your everyday life.
Furthermore believers, we should recognize that we are only responsible for our own tongue, for our own words. You cannot hold your spouse’s peace, or your parents, or your friends. As believers we are responsible for what proceeds from our own mouths, and we must give an answer for what we speak.
Mt 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Merriam Webster defines ‘peace’ this way: a state of tranquility or quiet; harmony in personal relations.
There is an old poem that describes beautifully the peace that is possible in the Christian life. It goes like this…
In the center of the whirlpool,
While the waters rush around,
There’s a space of perfect stillness,
Though with turmoil it is bound;
All is calm, and all is quiet,
Scarcely e’en a sense of sound.
So with us- despite the conflict-
When in Christ his peace is found.
Failure to hold our peace often leads to sin…
Personal sin– Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (gossip, slander, anger…)
Offending another– This is the Biblical definition of offending another- what we would call today, ‘causing a brother to sin’. When we fail to hold our peace it quite often leads a friend or relative into sinful activity themselves. (anger, hatred, gossip, …)
Losing self-control– Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Temperance is self-control, a spirit led self-control.
The benefit of holding our peace.
Deemed wise and intelligent– Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
How do we hold our peace? Preacher, I recognize what Scripture says, and I agree completely with God’s Word. But how do I go about practicing this in my daily life?
Decide ahead of time what things in life you will allow to offend you.
What people you will allow to offend you.
Pray, pray, pray. (count to 100)
Illustration: Thomas Jefferson said: When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, one hundred.
Illustration: Mrs. Fulton Oursler, whose husband wrote the classic book on the life of Christ, The Greatest Story Ever Told, once said she used to count to ten when becoming provoked. But one day she thought of the first ten words of the Lord’s Prayer. Now instead of counting to ten, she slowly says: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak;
of whom you speak;
And how, and when, and where.