“Speaking recklessly is like the thrusts of a sword,
but the words of the wise bring healing.” Proverbs 12:18 [NET]
This verse is built on a recognition of the power of words. And the couplet begins with a warning about the destructive power of words. It is very tempting to launch out now on a catalog of ways we are prone to use our words in harmful and damaging ways. The vivid first half of the couplet invites that. But my sense of the verse is that we are meant to focus more on the second half—the constructive half.
Ours is a God who creates and heals and saves and restores with his words. Creation, healing, restoration are the bias of God’s heart and should be the bias of ours as well, especially in our use of the power of words. God who brings a world into existence from nothing by speaking, our God who redeemed the world through the Word made flesh is the God who created image-bearers with the power of speech that we might do with words what he does with words.
It is not enough merely to avoid using words destructively. If we merely avoid doing damage and harm with our words, we have not yet achieved God’s goal for our verbal powers. He has given us verbal powers to create, to build up, to heal, to restore. It is not enough for God, the Scriptures say, that we should do no harm with our words. He is satisfied only when we put our energy and effort into the constructive work of words.
God does not merely want us to avoid doing wrong. His calling on our lives is higher than that. He calls us to do good—in action and in word and in everything.
If we live with the goal of not failing, our lives will in the end be a failure. If we are to succeed in life, we cannot merely aim to avoid failure; we have to actively aim at success. We cannot win at a game my merely trying not to lose; we have to actively aim at winning.
If we want to live a life of faithful discipleship before God, avoiding evil will only get us partway there. Speak healing. Build up with your words. Speak God’s new creation into existence everywhere you go.
© 2020 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved.