When people see you coming, what do they perceive? That can be a difficult question to answer, but I believe it is important. It is important because so much of what people know about Jesus Christ comes from their interaction with people who follow Him. In other words, how we treat people with both our actions and also with the way we speak says a lot to people about Jesus Christ.
We are going to have a little fun today as we look at ourselves. The overarching question here is: “What effect does the way you talk have on the people around you?” What we want to see is where we are and how we essentially can adjust ourselves to God’s Word.
There is nothing that says summer like a campfire. Sitting around burning wood has the ability to help people slow down and relax. Fire, in its proper place, has many useful functions. Take fire at the wrong place and time and there will be problems. When you take fire and add gasoline you have a potentially deadly mix.
If your personality is what you would call a fiery one, you could have a hard time expressing love to people. This will severely hinder relationships you have and ultimately push people away.
Gasoline is an important material for our daily life, but it is also a highly dangerous substance. We put it into our cars where a spark ignites it and it makes the car move. If you take that gasoline out and throw a match on it, it is highly explosive and volatile.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Now take the picture of the unstable nature of gasoline and apply it to your friends, co-workers, or your spouse. We all know what it takes to get the people closest to us worked up. Some people take great pleasure in getting the people in their life all worked up.
This also has a lot to do with temper. Hot tempered people are often hard to be around because you just never know when that sudden burst of rage will come from.
“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18
When someone has a hot temper, it is as if they are taking a fire that is dying and stirring it up with gasoline. The fight might not even have amounted to anything until they started to overreact. The phrasing here literally used is “cool it.” Just cool it already! A patient man will calm a conflict by exhibiting self-control.
Are you a hot-tempered, gasoline type person?
Seems like they are putting aloe in a lot of different lotions and things now. But, Aloe Vera is a plant which has inherent soothing and healing qualities to it, especially for burns.
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:14
Words can bring healing to someone, or words can crush a spirit. Someone who operates as aloe, will bring healing words to a situation. They understand that words mean something and therefore can hurt someone. They also recognize that with their words they can speak words of healing into a situation.
” A man finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word.” Proverbs 15:23
An aloe person is able to speak the right words into situations. It might be a nice word, some piece of advice, or a scripture that has some meaning for the circumstance.
Are you a healing words, aloe type person?
When I read through this the image of lukewarm milk came to mind. I have had many times at a gathering where I have grabbed the milk and it has been warmer than I would have liked. It wasn’t sour yet, just getting warm. People who live this way with other people have the same influence on someone as a person who just poured a glass of milk and realized it is not as cold as it should be. But, since they don’t want to be rude and waste it, they just drink it. They do avoid that person in the future, creating a strained relationship.
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
People who are living life following Jesus Christ, desiring to be used by God, will have wisdom available to them because they are reading God’s Word. They can then provide some meaningful words to others. Those who think they know it all, but don’t have any substance to their answer, those are like lukewarm milk.
These are the loud mouth people in your life. The people who have something to say about everything, but they have no idea what they are talking about. They might be nice, but no one really takes them all that seriously. You might fall for it once, but as soon as you take their advice and get hurt, you never come back.
Are you a meaningless words, know it all, lukewarm milk person?
What does this mean for you?
“Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:17
The real motivator for all of this, the real substance for purpose in this, is love. Love motivates us to encourage, to support, to pray for and uplift people with our words. Love calls us to have some substance to our speech, to read the Bible and apply it to life in a way that is meaningful for others and ourselves.
This is a hard assessment because it causes us to critically consider how our lives are impacting other people. Essential to this discussion is our love for God. If we love God, then we need to set aside the temper and let God use us to love others.
Make today a day that your words are used for healing and love, not for quarrels and meaningless talk. It will make a huge difference in the relationships you have with others.