Examining Our Speech by W. F. Bell
"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones" (Proverbs 16:24). "Excellent speech becomes not a fool; much less do lying lips a prince" (Proverbs 17:7).
Are our words really all that important? According to our texts, and passages like Matthew 12:33-37, they most certainly are! Our speech problem is actually a heart problem, for without grace in the heart there cannot be good speech. But few seem to care about what they say or how they say it. We have politicians and religious people who use the most horrific language, far from being either "pleasant" or "excellent." May we be stirred now to examine our hearts and our speech, then repent by God's mercy.
Public language has changed tremendously since I was young. Things are now said publicly (even by women) that were never heard at all fifty years ago. Television shows, commercials, and movies are "off the charts" when it comes to morality and good sense, aren't they? And what of the coarse language perpetrated by music, novels, magazines, and the Internet? These outward manifestations absolutely prove the depraved hearts of men and women, revealing a debased and debauched society. "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity" (James 3:6).
May we all as Christians become more concerned with our everyday speech, both privately and publicly. We must not expect any child of Adam to speak pleasantly or righteously, for we read: "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:14). God's X-ray of sinners reveals that the unconverted cannot speak righteous things because by nature we are all "under sin" from head to toe, "not one" being found truly "righteous" (Romans 3:9-20). But regenerate people, those who know and love Christ, should always be careful to speak the truth, and speak the truth in such a way that is commendable and edifying: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth" (Ephesians 4:29). "Pleasant words" are indeed "as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Yes, pleasant words are sweet words and healthy words! But "foolish" people do not speak "excellent" words, just as it is unbecoming "a prince" to have "lying lips."
"Be among the spices and you will smell of them," said Thomas Watson. Also, for sure, one cannot listen to suggestive, raunchy, unpleasant words without smelling of moral looseness and licentiousness, for such words are the words of foolish hearts. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34), and no wonder it was rightly said of Him: "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). Beloved, may we never betray the sinless Lord of glory by our low, contemptible speech, but truly honor Him who died at Calvary by "adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things," including "sound speech, that cannot be condemned" (Titus 2:7-10). "The grace of God" that has brought us "salvation" has not appeared to us to make us act and talk like everyone else, but just the opposite! Therefore, the apostle Paul tells us, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:11-15). Note, we are to "speak," "exhort," "rebuke."
QUOTE FOR THE DAY
"The pleasant words here commended must be those which the heart of the wise teaches, and adds learning to (verse 23), words of seasonable advice, instruction, and comfort, words taken from God's Word." Matthew Henry on Proverbs 16:24