A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver
There is an old familiar saying that most of us learned as children. The first time I remember hearing it was in elementary school. I was being bullied by a boy and a group of classmates. This boy had said some really hurtful things that devastated me. To this day, I can still hear his words speak to me, “You are so ugly and stupid…your face looks like an Apple…“Apple Head, Apple Head” he kept saying. I had a heart shaped face and wide cheekbones and although I knew I was cute, I never felt pretty enough.I liked this boy who was picking on me. In fact, just the day before this event happened, I had given him back his love note to me. You know the one… The classic, I love you. Do you love me? Circle Yes or No. I had circled Yes and was so tickled to have him as a boyfriend. However, on this particular day, He was not so likeable to me. He was so mean and relentless. He even went so far as to attack my last name Crutcher…”Crutches for Crutcher” he would say. Taunting me with his words. as all the other kids laughed and pointed at me. I went home crying to my mom that day. That was the first time I had ever heard that old familiar saying, ”sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” My mom told me to go back to school the next day and share this old saying with this boy and all his mean friends. She comforted me and said I was very pretty and that I was not to let his words hurt me. The next day, I could not get to school fast enough to stand up to him and tell him his words had not hurt me. I wanted to believe what my mom had told me. I tried to convince myself his words had not mattered to me. But they did. They had hurt me quiet deeply. The truth was I carried alot of self doubt within me. I was insecure about my wide cheekbones and heart-shaped face. I didn’t like my last name. I felt ugly as I compared myself to other girls. He didn’t know this about me. He was just being a boy showing off for the attention of his classmates. The fact was He had really hurt me. I carried his venomous words with me for a long time. All the way into my adulthood. When you feel the stinger of the most popular boys hateful words, as the words from someone you liked as a boyfriend. That sting hurts for quiet some time. No matter how tough or what saying we use to defend ourselves, the fact still remains all words coming from our lips carry with them a great power to hurt others. In the book of James, Chapter 3 verse 8-9 we read,
(ESV) but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
Wow! James compares our words to a restless evil, a deadly poison. He is basically saying to us that we speak using both sides of our mouth. In one aspect, we praise Jesus and give glory to God, and in the other aspect we use our words to curse at the very people God has created in the likeness of His own image. Notice James also said, no human being can tame the tongue. We may not be able to change the power with which our tongue can speak but we can certainly change the way we speak with the power of our tongue! God has given us so many tools by which we can gain wisdom and insight about speaking with words. One example gives us a beautiful visual of apples made of gold being surrounded or set into a shiny setting of pure silver…it comes from Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” The NIV Bible says it this way, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply —and how good is a timely word!”
What we glean from here is to be mindful not just of what we say but be mindful in our timing and delivery of how we use our words. Our words have power! Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Our words when spoken graciously, are as powerful as health to our body and sweetness to our soul. Another tool we can find in scripture is that we are to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It’s found in the book of James, Chapter 1 verse 19. It says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”. How difficult is that! How quickly we all want to speak and be heard and to stand up for ourselves to get our points across.I believe the greatest tool the Bible gives us we find in Galatians 5…in the fruit of the Spirit, or the “God-fruit” as I like to call it. If only we could use the “God-fruit” of Self-Control, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead our words, then our tongues could be tamed by God and become the most powerful and aptly spoken words in any language. The power of the tongue would be aptly directed for the use of building up others with the love of God.Our words are powerful! They do hurt others. And despite what saying we may have learned as children and even taught to our own children, we must be consciously aware at all times of their power and the poison our mouths can so easily spew out. Let us all walk quietly, in Self-control led by the Holy Spirit, and be sure to release the aptly spoken apples of gold in a beautiful setting of silver.