Read: Proverbs 10
“… but love covers over all wrongs.” (v. 12b)
I’m sure many of us have either experienced or heard horror stories of parents washing their children’s mouths out with soap. Whether it was for a curse word, talking back, or just as a punishment for something said, you know when they reached for the soap it was time to run. That bitter taste would linger no matter how much you rinsed… yuck! The punishment was so fierce, even the movie “A Christmas Story” paid tribute to those affected by this occurrence with a notorious scene involving the taste bud sentence.
Although I used to condemn this method of correction, I now see the significance behind it. Now don’t get me wrong… I am not telling all parents to start sticking bars of soap in your children’s mouths, but parents that did this were trying to deter their children from speaking in foolish ways. They aimed to clean up the way their children spoke. In Proverbs 10, Solomon creates a series of wise sayings that warns us of how powerful the tongue truly is. With around 18 references to the mouth, tongue, or lips, he explains that the words people use can either lead to wisdom and righteousness or can ultimately drive one to their own ruin and demise. Eleven cautions readers that words carelessly tossed around will destroy one’s character, integrity, and produce foolishness. Whereas seven times, Solomon counsels readers on the blessings that words can be to others. Positive, uplifting words can “nourish many” and become the “fountain of life.”
As we approach this Christmas season, we are reminded daily of the difficulty behind filtering our words when we encounter “pleasant” shoppers, family members that don’t understand boundaries, and added time in the car while we sit in traffic. We can choose to allow the enemy to use these opportune times to take us to our breaking point, jeopardizing our character, or we can look at every moment as another chance to speak love and bless others as Christ has blessed us time and time again with His encouraging Words. It states in verse 12b, “love covers over all wrongs.” Ephesians 4:29 also instructs, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” You aren’t just blessing or corrupting those you speak to directly, but also yourself and those around watching. So next time your patience is challenged, step back, take a deep breath, tell the enemy to leave your presence in the name of our Great God, and pour out love as a blessing over all. Easier said than done, but with God guiding your tongue… all things are possible.
Lord, send your Spirit to guide my tongue. Teach me to love like you love. And provide for me opportunities to bless others with wisdom and righteous counsel. In your infinitely wise name we pray, Amen.