Proverb 15, 1-4
Something to read
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
We are fools when we forget God's role in our communal voice, and let our own tongues break hearts and poison dialogue.
This instrument - our tongue - can be used to mend; it can be a 'tree of life' which brings about the unity which all Christians practice when they remember their role in the body of Christ.
We should also remember that there are many who are suffering in silence, whose very existence depends upon us their voice in bringing to reality that desired unity.
In our excursion on fools, let us finish our reading today by turning to one who described himself in his poem 'Epigram' as a fool: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834):
Alas! They had been friends in youth;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work madness in the brain.
The Ancient Mariner (1798)
Something to do
Let us speak with each other plainly but with respectful kindness in such a way that our humble understanding of God's wisdom is welcomed. Our voices are seedlings of words. They can take root in the minds of others. Then they, too, can bear the fruit of good knowledge of God's wisdom and share it with others. Life itself is thorny enough already! Let's not speak in ways which sows discord amongst those we love.
Today, remember that your tongue conveys God's Word.
Something to pray
God, make our tongues the voice
Of your prophetic message
Let our tongues not build up walls between humankind;
Let our tongues tear down barricades!
Let all hands be free to reach out,
Touch each other,
and feel the warmth of your love.
Let us not be cups of poison,
Forcing upon others our views,
Causing minds to be shut to your Word
But fountains of refreshing knowledge,
Crisp and wonderful in inviting, inclusive wisdom.
Ryan Sirmons is a pastor of The United Church of Christ of Annapolis who trained at Westminster College, Cambridge.