Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of judgment.
Among public figures, the two types of people mentioned here are fairly easy to discern. Dr. Ben Carson immediately came to mind as an example of the first category, and sadly, there are many examples for the second! In that context I would describe the righteous as those who are focused on pleasing God and helping people, and the foolish as those who are focused on pleasing people and enriching themselves. As Jesus very pointedly said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Far too many people are focused on temporal things like wealth or influence, not realizing that they are sealing their own very horrible fate. When a genuinely righteous person speaks, it builds up their hearers just as this says. We think of taking in nourishment through our lips, but this is talking about dispensing emotional and spiritual nourishment in what we say, that is, through our lips. As it says in the chapter just before this, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) When a person’s focus is on God, their words will reflect that and lift people up, drawing them closer to their Creator who loves them and desires the best for them.
Since I am a man of words (verse 19 is scary to me) I need to pay close attention to this. With computers and the Internet, communicating through writing is easy to a degree that would have been unimaginable when Proverbs was written. I’m sure in those days people were much more careful before they committed words to writing! I use both my mouth and my keyboard to generate a lot of words, and I need to be very careful that those words are nourishing. Just the other day one of my daughters commented that it was obvious the degree of stress I was under when I left out an important sentence in something I had written, because “You are so careful with your words.” I took that as a major compliment, even though it was in the context of a failure of mine. I do desire that my words nourish, whether spoken or written. That nourishment might be in imparting facts and knowledge, it might be in provoking thought through humor, it might be in providing comfort or encouragement. Whatever the details, I want my words to represent accurately the Lord I love and seek to serve, thereby drawing those who receive those words to open their hearts to Him for their salvation.
Father, I didn’t expect to have a clear example of this truth going on while I was writing! Thank You for guiding me in that as I was texting. Even people in “helping professions” aren’t necessarily righteous! I pray Your peace for Cathy as she deals with that nurse, that she will resist the devil firmly and calmly, not trying to control the situation but letting You be Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!