“Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.” Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)
As we come to end of the 2008 Presidential elections, I am sure you may be able to see why this Proverb jumped out at me! We have been barraged by words, promises, claims, and counter-claims. It is harder and harder to know who to believe or who is right? It seems like rather than saying how good I am, we have resorted to telling how bad the other person is. We even want to charge those who disagree with us as being un-American or unchristian! Civility seems lost. We divide rather than unite—did not Jesus say, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25)?
We need today words of hope, restoration and forgiveness. We are a world that is broken and is like the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's day—in ruins. There is so much rubble we don't know where to begin. There is so much distrust we no longer know who to trust. There is so much anger we are not sure if peace is a possibility. We are so divided we wonder if it is possible to unite us again. We hear words and wonder.
The writer of Proverbs reminds us of the power of our words. They can be used to build or to destroy. They can incite peace or war. They can promote love or invoke hate. They set the tenor of our days. We see the rubble, the hatred, the anger and we choose—which is best for the people of God? Words that will poison or bear fruit?
Any writer or speaker knows how important it is to choose the right word(s). One word can change the whole tenor of a sentence, paragraph, or speech. Translators know the difficulty of putting one language into another. Words may heal or kill. Words may tear down or build up. Words, words, words.|
My challenge to us during this month of Thanksgiving is for us to choose the words that bring fruit. We have been poisoned enough in these last months. We have heard the negative, the hurtful and the distrust. We have heard of the division of our land, our faith. It is now time that we choose the words the bring fruit. Words that heal, comfort and bring peace. The words that unite and bring hope for a better tomorrow.
What are those words? Forgiveness. Restoration. Hope. Love. Peace. Thankfulness. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Understanding. Joy. Patience. Christ-like. Forgiveness. Mercy. Pardon. Acceptance. Building. Wideness. Silence. Friend. Forgiveness.
You may have noted one word used more than once. It was intentional – another word for fruit. As God's love to us is intentional so must our love for the world be. As God has loved and forgiven so must we – for a balm to come we must choose. The writer of Proverbs is right – it must begin with us—the very people of God.