Free Speech…But to What Degree??

powerofwords1So 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!

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

“If You Have Nothing Good to Say…”

The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.

Proverbs 10: 20

A wee confession to make before I share today’s thoughts.  I gave you an incorrect reference to the passages yesterday.  I wrote that it was Proverbs 10, when in fact it was Proverbs 9.

I am choosing this one verse as it represents a few verses in this chapter where Solomon talks about the words that come out of our mouth and what they say about us.

When I was a boy growing up I can remember a few times when my Mom would say to me, “If you have nothing good to say about the person, then don’t say anything at all.”  I’m sure most people have heard that little saying quoted at some point in their life.  Some of the sayings that I remember hearing were easy to remember and yet were chock full of truth.  And this is one of them.

However, another saying that is definitely not true is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  As the vast majority of the human population can attest to is that in fact, words do hurt, and sometimes to the core.  Now I understand that we are growing up in an age where we defend our ‘right’ to free speech, and I am one who would uphold that.  But I think we flex the ‘rights’ muscle way more than we do the ‘responsibilities’ muscle.  When it comes to the words that we use with others, wisdom recognizes that the onus is on us to choose our words carefully and to choose those words that extend honour and dignity to a person, rather than reducing them as a person.  For example…

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain (v.11)

Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding (v.13) 

The words of the godly encourage many (v.21)

The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice (v.31)

The lips of the godly speak helpful words (v.32)

What’s interesting as I ponder these words is the truth that I can actually choose how I am going to respond to someone.  Will my words heal, or will they harm?  Will my words feed, or will they starve?  Will my words encourage, or will they tear down? And the list could go on.

Unfortunately, there are times when my emotions get the better of me and my words do more harm than good.  It is then that I need to heed this piece of wisdom from Solomon:
Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (v.19)  

And that’s just good ol’ fashioned discipline, my friend!  🙂

Selective Correction

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.  So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.

But correct the wise, and they will love you.  Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.               Proverbs 9: 7-9

I’ve never been one to shy away from the yearly performance evaluation.  If it’s done with the right intent, then it is actually helpful and allows you to improve your weak areas.  The key is if it’s done with the right intent.

Correction.  I’m not sure what comes to mind when you hear that word.  Perhaps it brings back memories as a child at home or at your school.  Or maybe it’s the supervisor losing it on you.  Depending on what you experienced in life when it came to correction, you have probably formed your own definition.  If you have negative feelings towards correction, then you may have confused it with punishment, or worse…abuse.  Correction is neither punishment nor abuse.

The sole purpose of correction is to bring something into proper alignment.  It’s about fostering health in a person’s character, shaping them to be the person God intended them to be.  Correction never demeans, belittles, denigrates, or maligns.  Correction believes the best about the person and in fact, desires the best for that person.

Solomon calls the wise to be selective in who they correct.  In other words, if a person is known as one who cannot receive correction without being offended, hurt, or angered, then Solomon says to not bother.  It’s better to correct the wise and righteous person.  Why?  They will actually listen, apply what they have learned, and become the better person for it.  They are the ones who will be an influential and positive force to be reckoned with in our world.

If your next performance evaluation comes with a bit of correction, before you take offense and sulk and complain to others about your ‘jerk boss’, pause for a moment and consider the intent behind it.  If the intent was coming from a heart that believes the best about you, then take a few seconds to thank your supervisor for the correction. Seriously…do it!

The Wisdom of Our Universe

BeginningThe Lord formed me [wisdom] from the beginning, before he created anything else.

I [wisdom] was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began.

I [wisdom] was the architect at his side. I [wisdom] was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.                                                                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 8: 22-23, 30

Just a reminder to those who are journeying with me through Proverbs, that the words I write are simply my thoughts and insights. Perhaps a different passage from the chapters stands out for you, and no doubt you may have different insights. My desire is that I am whetting your appetite for the richness of Kingdom wisdom. These proverbs really are ‘words to live by’.

If you’ve been reading every chapter from Proverbs, then by now you are feeling like Solomon, or maybe it’s Wisdom, is desperately pleading with us to listen and make these words a part of your life. Wisdom wants to marinate us in these words so that discipline and sound judgment ooze from our pores.

An eye opener for me starts at verse 22 where Wisdom declares that God formed her, or gave birth to her from the beginning before he created anything else! What I take from those words is that ALL of life has been formed and shaped by wisdom. In other words, God didn’t take a bunch of human body parts and throw them against the wall and see what stuck and what didn’t. Just imagine if God had…where would your nose have ended up?  Every part and cell in our body is placed where it’s supposed to be, and designed to do exactly as intended. Thank goodness!

IF that’s the case, then it would stand to reason that to fully get the most out of this brief life that we have on earth is to live in rhythm with creation, and in rhythm with our Creator. In other words, live life the way it was meant to be lived…with wisdom, understanding, sound judgment, discipline, and the fear of the Lord (a healthy fear, that is).

And one thing before I close off – discipline is even found in the creation of planet Earth. Get a load of verse 29 – I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. Just imagine living on a planet where the oceans could do what they want and go where they want! Scary, eh?

Solomon’s Challenge

BeStronger

Chapter 1

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.                                                                                                           Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

Day one, and here I am writing at 8:10pm.  What’s going on?  Yesterday I made a list of things I needed to get done today and I’ve just finished up now, and the last thing on my list is to write the blog.  Sure, it could have been the first thing, but somehow it made it to last place.  My intention is to write this at the beginning of every day.  Maybe what I’m lacking is discipline, which is exactly what caught my eye from the first chapter of Solomon’s proverbs.

Did you happen to notice that in verse two, the purpose of these proverbs is to “teach people wisdom and discipline, and then in verse three, the “purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives.”  Me thinks that discipline is sort of on the top of the list for Solomon!

I know a bit about discipline from my former career as a police officer.  The months of training was all about discipline…day in and day out!  Discipline is about putting structure in the areas of your life that develop maturity and character.  One area that I’ve become quite disciplined in is working out.  I workout approximately six days per week.  Not bad for an old fella!  And you know what did it for me?   On the first DVD (yes I workout at home with DVD’s) the trainer, Tony Horton, commented on the challenge of sticking with the program.  He said, “Get it out of your head.  Just show up and push play, and eventually you’ll get there.”  That stuck for me because I knew that there would be days when the last thing I wanted to do was workout.  When those days came, Tony’s words came to mind and I hauled my butt to the rec room, stuck in the DVD and pushed play.  And then something happened – working out became a part of my life, and the benefits have paid off handsomely!

How’s the discipline in your own life going these days?  Examine your life and if there are areas that are weak or need some growing, I would invite you to accept Solomon’s challenge to embrace wisdom and discipline.  Make it a part of your life every day, and I guarantee that you’ll see the change you’re looking for.  Until tomorrow…

Say Hello to Wisdom

GoldVeinBefore we embark on our journey into the depths of life and mine for wisdom, I wanted to give you a bit of an intro, welcome you to the tour…sort of like your ‘tour guide’, and show you the beauty of wisdom.

I find it intriguing how in my early years of following Jesus I naturally assumed a passive posture when it came to living like a Christian. It was like I was waiting for God to change me by zapping me or something. But over time I have come to learn the value of taking responsibility for the person I desire to be, which I think is the person that God desires, too.  I believe that deep within each of us lies the dormant seed of wisdom, and if we’ll water and nurture that seed it will produce for us a rich life.

Those necessary nutrients are found in the book of Proverbs.  This little book smack-dab in the middle of the Bible contains…proverbs!  Short pithy sayings of concentrated wisdom.  It was written by King Solomon, perhaps one of the wisest world leaders humanity has seen.  I’m fascinated that Solomon took the time to not only ponder the vastness of wisdom, but to also write it down.

So plant yourself in the Ground of all Being and let yourself be nurtured by these nutrient-rich nuggets!  Welcome to the tour.