A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! - Proverbs 15:23
I love verses like that! So simple. So concise. So straightforward. But how often do we glance right over the meaning of such wonderful passages? Too often, I'm afraid. But not today. Today, we're going to dig into that first phrase:
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth.
Do you want to be happy? To feel good? To be encouraged and hopeful? Sure, we all do. Then according to this verse, we need to guard what comes out of our mouths. If we want to feel good, we need to speak good (no, I don't mean well, I mean good). To speak well is to be eloquent, clear and expressive, and while those are excellent qualities, they are not the things that will bring or expel our happiness. No, that comes from speaking good. Talking about positive things. Using words that lift others up rather than tearing them down. Words of praise and gratitude. Uplifting. Encouraging. Joyful.
I challenge you to take a moment and think back over the words that have come out of your mouth today. Were they good? Could they be considered joyful? Or were they words of complaint, criticism, cynicism and the like? As I type this, it's only a little after 9:00 in the morning, and I must confess that not all of my words today have been joyful. Words of praise didn't escape my lips this morning when I discovered that the ants had gained entrance to the pantry and were helping themselves to anything and everything they could. I didn't shout "Hallelujah" when I stepped outside for my prayer walk and was met with the rising heat. Even during my prayer time, many of my words wreaked of complaint and dissatisfaction. Hmm, and I wonder why I get discouraged and downcast. The verse above tells me exactly why.
We need to watch our words. They have power--far more than we give them credit for. We cast them around so carelessly, but Proverbs 18:21 tells us,
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. . .
Did you catch that? We have the power over life and death, and that power resides in our tongue. So, I ask you again, what are you talking about? Are your words killing you or giving you life? Are they bringing you joy or heartache?
Speak well, but more than that, speak good!