A Word Fitly Spoken

I get that it just might be confirmation bias, interpreting what I’m reading this morning in support of something I’ve been sensing for awhile. But if that “sensing” has been of the Spirit, then I shouldn’t be surprised if He confirms it from the word of truth.

One of the things I think this season has brought clarity to is the need for engaged, meaningful, civil discourse. The ability and willingness to express ideas, and to listen to ideas, respectfully in the public square. Whether that “public square” is the kitchen table, the church foyer, or yes, even a social media platform. I think for too long we’ve been too happy to avoid hard topics and keep our relationships an inch deep and a mile wide. But with everything else this season has brought, it has brought to the surface the reality that many sincere people sincerely see things different on many different life-on-life topics. So, if we’re gonna get along, and grow together, I’m thinking we need to be able to figure out how to have conversations. And that such conversations will be, in the long run, beneficial.

That’s my bias. Here’s the confirmation.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.

(Proverbs 25:11-13 ESV)

Beautiful. Valuable. Refreshing. That, says Solomon, is what a word fitly spoken, a wise reprover, and a faithful messenger are like.

A word fitly spoken. A timely word. A word for the current circumstance. A word addressing the present condition. A seasonal word. A spoken word. It can adorn a conversation with the beauty of apples of gold in a setting of silver. But having such a word, it seems to me, requires some work in advance. The need to listen long enough to truly know the workings of the circumstance we’re addressing. The need to seek to understand the language being used, what the words mean, so as to avoid thinking we’re discussing the same thing though we’ve attached different nuances to the words we’re speaking. The need to be careful with our words. The need to not viscerally react when others use words that trigger something within us. A word fitly spoken, that’s what I long to speak.

And beautiful words are not just words of agreement. In fact, they can come from the mouth of a wise reprover. Oh, how we tend to shy away from reproof, rebuke, and reprimand — likely because we have encountered it in harsh and destructive ways. But in the hands, or mouth, of the wise, of those trained in skillfully leveraging the word of God and with Spirit-led insight into the ways of man, a well-spoken, gently delivered word of correction is of great value — like gold. And, when a discussion is marked not just by moving lips but also by listening ears, just see what profit can come of it.

And the motive isn’t to win an argument or to become further entrenched in one’s position. But to be a faithful messenger. To be an envoy of reliable, verifiable truth. Our conversations needing to be grounded in a sincere understanding of the principles and precepts at play in Scripture. Fitly spoken words and wise reproofs not based solely on our own understanding, but drawn from our understanding of what God has revealed in His word. Matters of life below addressed in the context of things above. A biblical worldview, as it’s referred to, addressing the world we view. Not that this will result in agreement, necessarily. But when two faithful messengers engage with one another with words fitly spoken desiring to be a wise reprover — for one another’s good and God’s glory — it has the potential to be a beautiful, valuable, and refreshing conversation.

That’s what I’m thinking. That’s what I’m picking up from what Solomon is laying down. Might be just confirming my own bias. But it might also be the way of those called to be ambassadors of the kingdom.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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