Having just passed the fifth anniversary of this blog, I’m feeling led, after the recent pause (mostly due to busy-ness working four jobs), to head in a slightly different direction. Refining the focus might be a better way to describe it.
The world, including the frenetic news cycle, provides endless opportunities for comment… and that’s the problem. Particularly in an election season, it’s like commenting on a stream of rush-hour traffic: always changing, always something to talk about, always the buzz of energy, always the smell of exhaust. Inevitably, it’s exhausting, not edifying.
One will only be able to recognize what time it is, prophetically speaking, who the characters are, and what one ought to do about it if one is steeped in the Word, being still and knowing that YHWH is God and that His Christ is utterly Sovereign. We need to make our life focus about the One Who doesn’t change in His Person, character or attributes (even as He responds differently to different situations): YHWH and His anointed Son, Y’Shuah the Christ. With our moment-to-moment focus on Him, all else will take it’s proper place and He will get center stage, as He should.
PROVERBS 10:18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. 19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. 20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.
The one who conceals hatred has lying lips… To say something nice instead of something ugly is admirable, but if one’s heart is dark (thinking ugly things) one sins in the very act of saying something ‘nice’, for in doing so, one is engaging in deception. As Proverbs 12:22 notes, “Lying lips are an abomination to YHWH.” Therefore… saying something nice when you feel hatred is right up there with shedding innocent blood or engaging in sexual perversion.
…whoever utters slander is a fool: The previous part of the verse looked at the problem of saying something contrary to one’s dark heart, thus being deceptive and attempting to make others think better of you (a form of pride): words which are deceptive but complimentary. This part of the verse looks at spoken words which are deceptive (untrue — slander) but derogatory. One is about concealing a dark heart with inaccurate words. The other is about revealing a dark heart with inaccurate words. Both are condemned — the real problem being that of an unregenerate heart. The fool says in his heart ‘There is no God.’ He’s in the same boat with those who commit abomination and don’t repent and seek forgiveness in the cross of Christ.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Since all have sinned and continue to do so even after regeneration until we put off the flesh, (albeit hopefully to a lesser and lesser degree, by the grace of God) the best antidote to further sin is restraint in verbal expression. (See also Job 41 an James 5). I’ve been wildly guilty of going against this precept on this blog and on a predecessor. In an unregenerate world, it’s easy to apply this to others. It’s more productive to apply it first to ourselves.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. Elsewhere we’re told that silver (often symbolic of blood, in scripture) is idiomatic of the process of refinement which YHWH puts believers through in this life, burning off the dross repeatedly until He can see His pure reflection in us. Thus a righteous tongue (sharing God‘s words, not our own fleshly impulses) is one of the top goals of our sanctification.
The heart is the source of words. The wicked (unregenerate) do not have God’s Holy Spirit in them. As such, therefore, their words are “of little worth’ — having value only in and for this world. They do not accrue as treasure in heaven. Does that mean that believers always say the right thing and unbelievers don’t? Hardly. I’ve heard the most amazing prophetic words come unwittingly out of the mouths of the most hardened unbelievers, and I’ve heard stupid, hurtful things come out of my own, even though I know I’m in Christ. What this verse seems to be saying is that as the process of sheep-and-goats separation takes place, one is either headed towards more edifying speech or less — towards heaven or hell, salvation or damnation. In eternity, there is no muddy middle.
The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Some of the go-to verses to understand this one include John 4:32-34 (“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”), Matt 14:16, Mark 6:37 and Luke 9:13 (“You give them something to eat.”), John 6:27, 35 (“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you… I AM the bread of life. ; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”) and Amos 8:11 (“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord YHWH, “when I will send a famine on the land– not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of YHWH.”)
In other words, fools (those who say in their heart ‘there is no God’) die of spiritual starvation for they don’t credit the Word of God as being the Word of God. They perish because they can’t make sense of (i.e., they can’t extract any spiritual ‘nutrition’ from) the Word of God, the Bible, which points to Jesus Christ, the bread of life. Other uses, by Paul, of idioms related to new believers being able to handle only milk, not meat work on the same underlying principle: We need regular, solid un-poisoned spiritual nutrition in order to live and grow into the Divine image-bearers we were meant to be and which the cross makes possible.