Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Foolish Words

On the political front this last week Ann Coulter shows what not to say in public. Wishing someone dead is not only mean-spirited, it reveals a foolish and childlike understanding of the world. All too often, that view of the world is destructive. And speaking without understanding the power of words belies the fool.

"Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice. Fools show their anger at once, but the prudent ignore an insult. Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness speaks deceitfully. Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment" (Proverbs 12:15-19).

Even though we all have freedom of speech our words are windows to our souls. Our words convey our wisdom (or lack of it), our sense of self (or lack of it), our love (or lack of it) and so many other things about who we are. Our words can be beautiful or ugly, revealing the beautiful or ugly inside of us. Our words reflect our identity and our values. Fools lash out and attack others, their words "like sword thrusts." Few words are as cutting as saying that you wish someone dead.

Often our character is revealed in what we do not say as well. When faced with such foolish and hurtful words, one option is to walk away remaining silent, or walk away with words of blessing or prayer for the other person. The other option is to address the behavior but not the person. Replying with wisdom means refraining from "giving it back," and focussing instead on the words and feelings.

I pray that as you walk a sacred path each day, that you will seek wisdom, understand the power of your words and what they reveal about you, and that the words you choose will bring healing to a seemingly foolish world.