When we cover our church covenant in a membership class, I always say, “Immorality has slain its thousands, but gossip its tens of thousands.” I thought of that today as I read Proverbs 10. Throughout Proverbs 10 Solomon speaks of the “mouth of the wicked” and “the mouth of the righteous.” The contrasts could not be starker. The “mouth” or “lips” of the righteous is a fountain of life (11a), is choice silver (20a), feeds many (21a), flows with wisdom (31a) and brings forth what is acceptable (32a). The mouth of the righteous is an indisputable mark of a wise and righteous heart.
The “mouth” or “lips” of the wicked conceal violence (6b, 11b), the mouth of fool means that ruin is at hand (14b). The mouth of the wicked speak what is perverted (32b). Bound up with the wicked mouth is the hatred that “stirs up strife” (12a) and “spreads slander” (18b). In other words, wicked lips are a reflection of a foolish and wicked heart. One of the persistent problems with the mouth of the wicked is that the wicked always feel justified in stirring things up and spreading slander, thinking that if they refrained there would be grave injustices that go unpunished.
So much of the life and health of the church is wrapped up in our words. Our words need to wise, helpful and life-giving. When our words are filled with strife, slander, tale-bearing and perversion, then our words bring ruin. We can ruin relationships, we can ruin reputations and we can bring irreparable harm to the health of the body. We are called to be peacemakers. These are the sons of God (Matt. 5:9). But church wreckers God will wreck (1 Cor. 3:17).
Let’s strive in our communication to be wise and righteous. Let’s pursue the paths of righteous communication by following the Scriptural patterns. There is too much at stake, both for the body and for ourselves, to have the “lips of the wicked.” May we be known to have the “lips of the righteous.”