Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
The Bible has a lot to say about words and speech. Just pulling the references would take quite a while! This particular verse brings to mind Jesus’ strong admonition that “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) Here it says “reckless,” and Jesus said “careless,” but they are very similar. Too often we wound without really intending to, and Jesus said we are accountable for that. This verse also gives the flip side of that, with the possibility of healing words. Such words are truly a sign of wisdom. There are people with multiple academic degrees who wound others almost every time they open their mouth. They may be intelligent, but they aren’t wise! Conversely, there are people who make you feel better every time you talk to them. They are the wise ones, because you can’t really be that way without a respect and love for your hearers that comes from a proper appreciation for your mutual Creator. As it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) If you speak healing words, people will want to be around you. If your words wound with any regularity, you will soon be very alone indeed. This is a very different thing from “political correctness.” It is not healing to speak nonsense. That is “virtue signaling,” rather than either love or wisdom.
This is a subject close to my heart, because I am a man of words. As verse 14 says, I make my living with words, in various capacities. That makes it all the more important that my words heal, and not wound needlessly. My father pointed out to me that sometimes healing requires a scalpel, but he cautioned me that in such cases my words must be clean indeed, and not contaminated with pride, envy, or especially not hatred. I have had experience with using words as weapons, and to be honest, it has felt good to my flesh to make a good strike, skewering my hearer. That is ultimately destructive to me, as well as to my hearer. God will call me to account for it! I am gifted with words, and I must be a good steward of that gift. My words should indeed bring healing, even when they occasionally “knock the scab off” of old wounds. If I rely on my own wisdom I will be wounding with considerable frequency, so I’ve got to rely on God’s wisdom instead. When I am fully submitted and committed to Him, His words flow through me, accomplishing that for which He sends them, (Isaiah 55:11) for His glory alone.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Sometimes my use of words seems unrelated to all of this, like when I was creating exams yesterday for my Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy classes, but even there my choice of words should not be to wound, but to build up and heal. I should be dealing in words that will benefit my students’ future patients. Those exams are done, but I pray that as the students take them, the result will be healing and further learning, for the benefit of the students and their future patients, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!