Leviticus 17, Isaiah 13, Proverbs 10:17-32

Read Leviticus 17, Isaiah 13, Proverbs 10:17-32 today.

This devotional is about Proverbs 10:17-32.

How people talk is a recurring theme in Proverbs 10:17-32. This passage tells us:

  • a fool conceals hatred with lies (v. 18a)
  • a fool spreads slander (v. 18b)
  • sin thrives in the presence of too many words (v. 19a)
  • a cautious (“prudent”) person knows when not to speak (v. 19b)
  • the words of a righteous person are very valuable (v. 20a)
  • the words of a righteous person strengthen many people (v. 21a)
  • the words of a righteous person are wise (v. 31a)
  • ungodly words will be silenced (v. 31b)
  • a righteous person knows how to use words to bring about a favorable result (v. 32a)
  • but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse (v. 32b).

Words can change the course of a person’s life. They can persuade someone not to do something sinful, dangerous, or deadly. They can provoke someone to do something sinful, dangerous, or deadly. The right words can encourage a hurting heart and the wrong words can discourage a hopeful soul. Words are how we came to know Jesus as our Lord but they can also entice someone away from God.

The lesson in this passage is that your walk with God will show itself in how you talk. If you speak truth in ways that build up and strengthen others, giving them insight into wisdom, then your words will have great value and God will use them in the lives of other people. That is a reflection of a growing walk with God.

On the other hand, if your words cause others to be tempted, to be seduced into sin, are hurtful and hateful, that shows that there are issues in your heart that need to be addressed.

Sinning in what we say is one of the easiest ways to sin that exists. James says we all stumble in many ways and only a perfect person never sins in what he says (James 3:2).

But as your walk with God grows, your ability to speak in ways that glorify God will grow, too. If you feel convicted about the things you say, ask God to use his word to root out the sins that cause you to say sinful things. Then replace those things with truth from your own reading of Scripture and the strengthening you receive in your small group and the teaching ministries of our church.

May it be said of us that our words “nourish many” (v. 21) are “the fruit of wisdom” (v. 31) and that they “know what finds favor” (v. 32a). Then God will be glorified by our words as they reflect his changes and growth in us.

Exodus 12:22-51, Job 30, James 3

Read Exodus 12:22-51, Job 30, James 3.

This devotional which is about James 3.

This chapter in scripture tackles one of the hardest sins to overcome–the sinful use of words. James himself acknowledged how hard it is to control what we say in verse 2 where he wrote, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” Again, in verse 8 he acknowledged that “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

This passage about the tongue exists to explain James’ statement in verse 1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” That verse told us teachers in the church will be held to greater accountability by God for how we live our lives. It warns anyone thinking about teaching about the extra layer of accountability God will hold teachers to. Verse 2 gives one of the major ways in which God will evaluate our lives and our teaching. If we teach God’s truth but don’t have a tamed tongue, we will answer to God for that.

Teachers will be held to greater accountability because a person’s words reflect what is in his heart. Jesus said that in Luke 6:45.

So if God changes hearts, that then changes lives. Therefore, how a person speaks to other people is one of the clearest evidences of the growth (or lack of growth) in the Christian life. That’s what we see here James 3:2-18. Verses 3-6 describe how very large things (horses in verse 3, ships in verse 4) can be controlled by something very small. Likewise, the tongue is very small but has power to do great damage (vv. 5-6). Despite humanity’s ability to tame all kinds of animals, no man or woman has the power to tame the tongue (vv. 7-8); only God can do that (v.v 13-18).

We’ve all been hurt by the words of others and each of us has hurt others with things that we’ve said. Let’s not dwell on that today; instead, let’s focus on this thought in verse 18: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” This verse is connected to the idea of the power of the tongue. When God’s truth makes us wise (vv. 13, 17), we seek to become peacemakers with our words.

Have you learned how to use words to make peace with others in your life? Who in your life do you need to talk with to make peace, as God wants?

Or, do you know people who are in conflict with one another? Could you use God’s wisdom and good words to help solve that conflict? These are good ways to put today’s truth into practice in your life today.

Genesis 39, Job 5, Matthew 27

Read Genesis 39, Job 5, Matthew 27.

This devotional which is about Job 5.

Job 1 and 2 record the discussion God and Satan had about Job and the calamity that God allowed Satan to bring into Job’s life. At the end of chapter 2, Job was visited by friends who wept with him and “…sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights” (v. 13). Job broke that silence in chapter 3 with a bitter expression of the turmoil in his soul.

The first of Job’s friends to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite. His response to Job began in chapter 4 and extends to our reading today, Job 5. He began his speech by complimenting Job’s wise words for others who were in trouble (4:1-6), but then Eliphaz began to rebuke Job gently for not applying his words of wisdom to himself (4:7-21). 

Here in Job 5, Eliphaz continued his response to Job. His message is, in summary:

  • Don’t be bitter (vv. 1-7, but especially v. 2).
  • Appeal to God to fix all this if you think you’re really innocent (vv. 8-16).
  • But be honest with yourself and realize that God is putting you under discipline (vv. 17-27).

The assumption that Eliphaz and all of Job’s friends had was that Job was suffering because he had sinned and was now experiencing the discipline of God in his life. While Eliphaz did not directly call on Job to repent, his instruction “do not despise the discipline of the Almighty” (v. 17b) insinuates that Job should repent. Eliphaz’s sweeping description of what a good life Job could have in verses 18-26 is all designed to persuade Job to stop hiding his sin, stop living in denial about it, and come clean with God. This chapter, and Eliphaz’s speech, ends with these words, “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.”

If we didn’t have Job 1-2 or God’s speech at the end of Job, I think we’d be tempted to agree with Eliphaz. I know I would be tempted to agree with him. Job’s problems came so fast and so ferociously that it is hard not to see them as deliberate acts of God. If Job were as innocent as he claims, why would a good and loving God treat him so badly? it makes no sense to us, humanly speaking.

That’s a big reason why the book of Job exists. It exists to challenge and correct our simplistic ideas about suffering. People tend to see God’s blessings as proof that he approves of how they are living. We also tend to see problems as proof that something is wrong. That’s what Eliphaz thought, but he didn’t know anything that he thought he knew. Instead of being spiritually helpful to Job, Eliphaz compounded Job’s suffering with his words.

We should learn from the book of Job that God works in this world in ways that are more complicated than we think. If you are talking with another believer about his or her problems, you don’t know why God allowed those problems to happen. So, it is unkind and unhelpful to make assumptions and then apply God’s word based on those assumptions.

Are you kind and loving when you talk with other believers who are suffering? Or do you–even if you mean well–make the suffering more painful? By all means do what you can to speak truth to other believers, but ask God for wisdom and discernment and make sure that you are kind and loving instead of self-assured and harsh.