So yesterday was one of those days that was jammed packed from morning til late into the evening. Had I tried to write my post when I finally got home, I would been babbling and not being very coherent. I don’t sweat it. My goal is to write everyday, but I realize that ‘life happens’ and at the end of the day, it’s all good. But I do love setting goals for myself, as it gives me something to aim for. But I’m digressing once again…
We’re now into the part of proverbs where each verse or line is a short nugget of wisdom, and they can vary from topic to topic. My post will just reflect on one of the topics. So on to chapter 11!
9 With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.
12 It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.
13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
So I am a supporter of ‘free speech’. What I mean by that is that people should be allowed to state their beliefs, thoughts, opinions and their point of view on a variety of matters. I don’t believe that any one group of people should be policing what others can or cannot say…sort of. Let me explain.
Words are powerful. They can inspire, build ones courage, inform, educate, comfort, and love. Words can also destroy, hurt, annihilate, crush, suck joy, isolate, hate and kill. If you’ve been around this beautiful world of ours for at least a decade, then you have no doubt experienced both healing words and hurting words. You know their power.
Solomon is correct when he says that it’s the ‘godless’ who destroy their friends with their words. To use our words to hurt, belittle, or gossip is, in fact, ‘godless’. It’s godless because God doesn’t kill people with his words. With words, God uses words to build us up, love us, heal us, restore us, and secure us. Humanity is created in God’s image, and so Wisdom knows that to live life as it was meant to be lived means we live as creative beings, not beings of destruction.
Our world longs for peace in our homes, our communities and among our nations, and that all starts with our words, my friends.
I’m all for freedom of speech, just not undisciplined speech.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! James 3: 5 The Message
2 thoughts on “Free Speech…But to What Degree??”
Great post, Scott! How would you season this wisdom with advice about giving each other prayerful constructive criticism? I ask because one of the most life-changing moments of growth in my life was when my sister-in-law had the courage to challenge me about an approach I had taken on something. My intentions were good, but I didn’t see at the time that the approach was harmful and even counterproductive. We talked about it over the course of several weeks, clarifying points where needed. The criticism felt like a wound to me at first, but I eventually came to understand her concern, and whenever I think about it now I constantly feel grateful that she took this risk. Because it IS a risk when we approach someone we love with concerns that they may find upsetting; they might become defensive or anxious or angry; they might malign us to others, or even end the relationship and blame us for it. So I’m extremely thankful that she found it worth the risk, worth her time and energy, and even worth facing my push-back, because I matured through that experience. So I see this kind of constructive criticism as a valid type of disciplined speech between believers who love each other and trust one another’s intentions. There’s another verse in Proverbs that says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” and I wouldn’t have grown if my sister-in-law hadn’t embodied this verse in my life. I love her for it! 🙂
There’s a huge difference between maligning a person’s character, belittling someone, or gossiping about them, and confronting someone in love about an issue that is hurting that person and others. In fact, there is a proverb (27:6) that says ‘wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.’ However, there will be times when we say something to someone that is hurtful, or it gets said to us…and that’s where forgiveness, understanding and love come into play. Thanks so much for sharing and interacting. I really appreciate it.