I like words. When you use them smartly, you can make people laugh, you can shock them and you can get them so lost in thinking about what you’ve said or written, their opinions and even their faith can be redirected. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Music can even do that to you. But don’t get me started on music! Proverbs 18:21 says this in The Message version:
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
The context of this verse can cover a lot of ground, but I’ve had this thought lately: How many times do we put all of our efforts and even our faith, into honouring something that isn’t even true? This one did the rounds in my family when I was younger, and at the time, didn’t know any better: ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ I thought it was biblical, and I trusted the source, and so followed that so-called ‘proverb’ because God obviously expected me to always make the first move and with effort. Actually, the quote belongs to Benjamin Franklin, the founding father of the USA. God’s idea is that we trust Him alone for salvation, and also trust him for our needs, but we do however need to go to work etc. ourselves. But I know you get what I’m saying. ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ is another one of those. Apparently that first appeared in a sermon by John Wesley in 1791 and nowhere in the Bible is that spoken about. Jesus said we are defiled by what is in our hearts and nowhere is there the kind of teaching that suggested you take a bath, or tidy your room, although they are both really good things to do.
Look, I’m not saying taking a bath is ‘death’ or ‘poison’ as Proverbs 18 says, but what I am saying is that we can often shape our lives and the way we see God or our responsibilities, according to a blatant mistruth. We enthusiastically share these things with others too and can start a stupid chain reaction of paranoia as people strive to be obedient and godly in how they live, think and serve, but chasing a false ideal.
Who has time to assume what might be true? So let’s spend time in the Word of God. Let us put our trust in Truth, act in Truth, share the Truth, and speak the Truth, because THAT is ‘fruit’. I never what to be called one who spreads ‘poison’!
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