Links Daily Devotional

Good Words

A person finds joy in an apt reply—and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23, NIV)

Do you enjoy a bit of wry irony? Here’s some for you.

Back on May 21, not two hours after the USGA announced it was going ahead with its ruling to ban anchored putting, I received an email invitation from the same august body to renew my membership for another year. I’m guessing those kind folks weren’t aware of my opinion on the matter.

Words are like spices. Their content plays only one part in their effect. Quantity matters greatly, as does contextual application. Even timing matters. Some days, I’m all right if you “bring the heat”; other days my ears (and my stomach) need something far more gentle.

To know me is to say the right word at the right time to me.

That said, layered onto today’s proverb, I must confess that if I were to count and categorize my sins, they would stack up heavily in the “words” column. I fear that this is one area of our lives where we are nearly all hypocrites. James put it strikingly: “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God…these things ought not to be” (James 3:9-10, ESV).

Before Christ, before we are made new by him, we really have no great impetus to speak carefully, apart from some general understanding of kindness (hmm, wonder where that came from?). After all, in the world “we’re all entitled to our opinions,” “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” and freedom of speech can get to sounding more like anarchy. It’s hard to “protect one’s interests” and “stand up for oneself” without some strong words to put others in their place.

But as in so many other arenas, our way with words when we are kingdom people is meant to be something quite different. We are to be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19), not let any “unwholesome talk” emerge from our mouths (Ephesians 4:29), encourage one another about the coming day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:18), offer praise always on our lips (Psalm 34:1)—and the Holy Spirit within us is producing, among other things, gentleness, a trait nearly always displayed by the way we speak to others.

Your good words will not go unnoticed. They will, in some measure, form your reputation, as you deliver them and as you follow up on what you have said. Your mama was right: watch what you say.

Jeff Hopper

June 24, 2013

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