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Rev. Steven D. Shepard & First Lady ShepardScripture: Proverbs 18
By Rev. Steven D. Shepard, Sr.
In Proverbs 18:13-21, Solomon penned words that I believe are indicative of and imperative for all those of us who count ourselves among the committed community of Christ to follow.
Solomon gives us three basic principles to follow if we are to make sound judgments and decisions. First Solomon tells us to:
(1) Get the facts before we decide (vs. 13).
(2) Be open to new ideas and a new way of doing things (vs. 15)
(3) There are always two sides to every story. We must make sure that we listen to both sides before judging. (vs. 17)
All three principles center on us seeking additional information. We must go beyond what others might tell us about a person or a situation. We cannot rely on our own feelings and thoughts, but we must seek out Godly wisdom and direction.
Maybe this is what Solomon was pondering when he penned the words of Proverbs 18:21: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." God gives each of us the power to use words to bring life or death to others and ourselves.
The Bible is full of scriptures that teach us how to not only watch our words, but how to use our words carefully, to maintain peace in our families, schools, church, and world. Â Certain things should not come out of our mouth, for they do nothing more than tear down and discourage rather than build-up and show the love of Christ.
Jesus' brother, James, talks about speaking life when he wrote in the James 1:26: Â "If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
If we claim we are Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, then we must use our words wisely. When we speak, it should be words spoken in a way to make a person feel better. We must encourage and strengthen them. In other words, we must speak life!
We must speak life into our cities, and communities that are on the verge of finding hope, hopeless and their faith turning fickle and reassure them that God is still on the throne and in control and His word will not return to Him void.
We must speak life, and not death, into those relationships that are torn and beaten by the storms of life and let that couple know that God is able to repair ram-shacked relationships and miserable marriages.
We must speak life into the lives of our youth and let them know, if they can dream in their minds and hold it in their hearts, they can achieve it with their hands; For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), and
We must speak life and not death into the lives of our churches that seem to be falling by the wayside and echo the words that Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew 16:18: "Upon this Rock I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Speak life to that wife who is on the verge of wiping out her family by filing for a divorce, and reassure her: what God has put together, let no man put asunder.
Speak Life into that brother who has just been released from prison, and is on the verge of giving up on life. Let him know that the Lord will make a way somehow.
Speak life, and not death, my brother. Speak life, and not death, my sister. Speak Life, Speak Life, SPEAK LIFE!
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Solomon writes: 13 To answer before listening- that is folly and shame. 14 The human spirit can endure in sickness, Â but a crushed spirit who can bear? 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. 16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. 17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. 18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart. 19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. 20 From the fruit of their mouths people's stomachs are filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
In these concise statements,
Yes, this could be and ought to be hard work, but the only alternative calls for us to prejudge a person and/or situation.
Prejudging does nothing more than allows us to judge and make a decision before we get the facts. I wonder how often in our own lives have people prejudged us and we were and are nothing like they thought us to be. I wonder how many times in our prejudging others have we hurt and/or hindered them from being all the God has made them to be.