If You Ruled The World
“A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11
Words are important. Everyone should love words. They are the tools of creation, the manifestation of thought, one of the ways in which man is made in the image of God. Whether written or spoken, they have the potential to change the world. For better or for worse.
Did you know that there are almost 200,000 words in the English language? About one quarter of those are adjectives. That’s a lot to choose from. And yet our popular culture shows a remarkable lack of variety in its choice of adjectives. When was the last time you saw a movie or read a book that didn’t use some degrading form of profanity? Over and over again.
I was thinking about the issue of word usage this morning as I was doing my daily reading in the Proverbs. Since today is October 15, I read chapter 15, and I was amazed at how many verses in that one chapter referenced something about words. Out of the thirty-three verses in Proverbs 15, I counted nine that directly referenced words. Here are a few:
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” – Proverbs 15:2
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:4
“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!” – Proverbs 15:23
“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” – Proverbs 15:28
Unfortunately, most of us are guilty of using words as weapons of destruction at one time or other. Remember when you cruelly gossiped about a friend and your hurtful words got back to her? Or how about that email you shot off in anger and came to regret?
Clearly, all of us need to be more careful about what we say and what we write. So here’s my challenge: If you ruled the world, what would you do to fix this problem?
I’ll go first. If I ruled the world, I would require everyone to read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, it’s easy to remember which one to read. Just read the one with the same number as the date. Every month you will have read the entire book of Proverbs through (except for the months with less than 31 days, but that’s okay) and you can start the next month at the beginning.
The Book of Proverbs is overflowing with practical wisdom beyond the use of words. It teaches us to be honest and generous, to refrain from gossip and cheating, to give to the poor, to beware being used by other people, and so on. Reading the simple straightforward verses over and over changes you. And it may just change the world.
- What law would you legislate if you ruled the world?