“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but, the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness—and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words; a man cannot tell what shall be—and what shall be after him, who can tell him?”

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14

As Jesus said, “For by your words you shall be justified and by your words shall be condemned” (Mt. 12:37).
During the years that Solomon walked close to the Lord, he wrote many spiritually sage proverbs that still guide believers to this day. And, many of them had to do with one’s words (Prov. 10:19; 12:6; 15:1, 26; 16:24; 17:27; 18:4, 8; 26:22; 29:30).

And, even in the New Testament there are many passages that remind us of the importance (or danger) of words.
Jesus said “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things—and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But, I say unto you, That every idle (Grk. ‘argos’-‘useless, worthless, barren, etc.’) word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment” (Mt. 12:34b-37).

Likewise, James goes to great lengths to warn of the dangers of the tongue (3:1-12). He said, “Even though the tongue is a small member of the body, it still boasts great things. And oh how great a matter a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity that defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature—and it is set on fire of hell” (vv.5-6). He then reminds us that “no man can tame the tongue—for it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (v.8); but, he adds, we can learn to “bridle the tongue so we’ll not as easily offend in words, which is the sign of true spiritual maturity” (v.2).

Solomon said “The words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious (Heb. ‘chen’—‘kind, full of Grace, gentle, pleasant, precious, etc.’).” That goes along perfectly with his earlier proverb which said “Words fitly spoken—i.e., appropriately said—are as apples of gold set in picture frames of silver” (Prov. 25:11).

But, such is not the case with “the lips of a fool.”
He talks loudly and long. He “waxes eloquently” about this-or-sound, trying to sound like an expert on every subject. Truly, he is “full of words”—but, as Solomon said, he is also full of “foolishness and folly.” Soon, his true colors will be revealed and “his lips will swallow him up” or, to put it another way, he’ll be caught in his web of lies and half-truths, glittering exaggerations, etc., and brought to shame. And, after he’s gone, it will be hard to assess just exactly how much damage he did.

May the Holy Spirit help us to know “when to speak and when to keep quiet” (Eccl. 3:7b). May He help us to know “when to answer a fool in his folly and when to not say a word” (Prov. 26:4-5). That way we’ll not need to fear if today’s Manna will one day describe what we say and do. And, that way we can rest assured the Master will be pleased with us.

July 26, 2011