Proverbs 10:31-32

Proverbs 10:31-32 "The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness."
Given the language within these final two sentences, verses 31 and 32 clearly belong together.  In addressing one’s speech, Solomon uses these two statements to expose the most important aspect of our speech – the source of our speech.  Verse 31 tells us what happens when we speak where verse 32 tells us what makes us speak.  Verse 31 tells us that froward tongue will be eventually stopped where verse 32 tells us what made the froward tongue speak – wickedness.  Verse 31 tells us that the just tongue will eventually be shared where verse 32 tells us what made the just tongue speak – righteousness.  In both cases, the outcome is not the focus.  In both cases, the source is the focus.

We like to focus on the outcome.  After all, having your tongue cut out is easy to focus on.  When it comes to speech, it’s easy to focus on the words.  Solomon wasn’t focusing on the words in these words.  He focused on the source of words.  A froward tongue being cut out is not the focus.  A person speaking forwardness is not the focus.  It isn’t even the mouth of the wicked that is the focus.  The focus of these proverbs is the character of the mouth that is speaking.  Everyone speaks.  Both the just and the wicked have mouths that speak.  In the passage, both the righteous and the wicked speak.  The righteous experience a different outcome than the wicked because their words are different but their words are different because their character is different.  The emphasis of these words is not the speech – it is the source of speech.

If you don’t want to have your tongue silenced, don’t speak frowardness.  If you don’t want to speak frowardness, don’t be wicked.  Wickedness precedes froward words.  A wicked heart is the source of a froward mouth.  A perverted heart is the source of a perverted mouth.  A foul heart is the source of a foul mouth.  If you want your words to be heard, speak wisdom.  If you want to speak wisdom, be righteous.  Righteousness precedes wise words.  A righteous heart is the source of a wise mouth.  A pure heart is the source of a pure mouth.  A holy heart is the source of a holy mouth.  The righteous know what is acceptable because the righteous fear God.  The wicked don’t know what is acceptable because they don’t fear God.  Well before the righteous speak, they discern their thoughts and intents.  Well before the righteous open their mouth, they have dealt with their words according to God’s ways.  We shouldn’t say everything we think and we shouldn’t say everything we feel.  More importantly, we should think everything we think and we shouldn’t feel everything we feel.  A lot of what we want to say isn’t acceptable in God’s ears and more importantly, a lot of what we think isn’t acceptable in God’s eyes.
 
We like to focus on our words instead of focusing on the source of our words.  When we say something we shouldn’t have said, we foolishly say, “I didn’t mean it.”  When we say something that hurt another person, we foolishly lie and say, “I don’t know why I said that.”  We say what we want to say!  We say what we’ve thought about saying.  We say what we want others to hear.  Long before anything comes out of our mouths, it is born in our hearts.  Long before words flow out of our mouths, thoughts are rehearsed in our hearts.  Rarely do we have a conversation with anyone that we haven’t already had with ourselves.  The source of every word we speak is our own heart.  Our character dictates our conversation.  If profanity comes out of our mouth, it lives within our heart.  If perversion leaks out of our mouth, it is because it abounds in our heart.  We can’t keep in who we are.  Our mouth is the crack through which our character spills out.  Our mouth is the vent through which our thoughts escape. 

If a person’s mouth is froward, it’s because a person’s heart is wicked.  If a person’s heart is wicked, he will eventually reveal his wickedness by his words.  In Matthew 12:34-35, Jesus boldly and bluntly confronted the Pharisees with this truth when He said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, BEING EVIL, SPEAK GOOD THINGS? He would go on to day, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart BRINGETH FORTH good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure BRINGETH FORTH evil things.”  James used a water SOURCE and a tree ROOT to describe our words saying in James 3:10-12, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries?  either a vine, figs?  so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”  Just as fruit on a tree comes from one source and just as water from a well comes from one source, our words come from one source – our heart.
 
The average person will look at these proverbs and fear having their tongue cut out so they will determine to work harder at controlling the tongue.  That’s a mistake because, as James put it, “the tongue can no man tame.”  If you want to avoid having your tongue cut off, you have to trace the tongue back to its source.  If you want the tongue to speak wisely and kindly, you have to adjust the source.  The tongue is like an electrical wire.  If you’re going to do any wiring in a house, you have to control wires or else they will hurt you.  To control the harm a wire can cause you, you have to trace it back to its source and turn the breaker off.  To control our words, we have to control our hearts.  To say acceptable things, we have to know what is acceptable.  To know what is acceptable, we have to have discernment, which is a virtue of the heart.  To say wise things, we have to know wise things. To know wise things, we need to have wisdom, which is a virtue of the heart.

Simply put, if you’re having a hard time with your mouth, then you’re having a hard time with your heart.  If people are shutting you up (a kind way of cutting your tongue out), then people dislike who you are because what you say reveals who you are.  If you’re saying things you shouldn’t say to your wife, then you don’t have a talking problem, you have a thinking problem.  If you’re saying things you shouldn’t say to your husband, then you don’t have a talking problem, you have a thinking problem.  If you’re saying things you shouldn’t say to your parents, then you don’t have a talking back problem, you have a thinking problem.  If you’re saying things you shouldn’t say about someone, then you don’t have a gossiping problem, you have a thinking problem.  You failed to discern what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable IN YOUR HEART before it came OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
 
One of most widely and most abused statements we all say is, “Watch your mouth!”  Beneath the surface of these verses is what we should be saying to ourselves and to those we’re trying to help, “Watch your heart!”  

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