If only you'd stopped to think, or listen, before you spoke.
Words. Jewels without price, fruit dripping with sweetness, a precious remedy, you offer them as gifts to another. They add them to the treasure-chest of the mind, holding them close, storing them up, passing them on. Words heal wounds, comfort hurts, mend conflicts, cure weariness, bring joy, and grow wisdom.
A wise man once said these words about words: "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21a).
The bad mouth is boastful, foolish and hurtful, makes hasty vows which can't be kept, answers before listening, makes fun of others, flatters, lies, tells secrets, speaks without thinking, talks a lot, and is quick to argue and fight (10:19; 12:18, 22; 15:2, 18; 17:14; 18:13; 19:29; 20:19; 25; 27:2; 29:5, 20).
The good mouth speaks the right words at the right time, soothes anxiety with kindness, avoids anger and argument, is pleasant, patient and gentle, keeps secrets, refuses slander, gives knowledge, and is careful, truthful, and wise (11:13; 12:19, 25; 14:29; 15:1, 7, 23; 16:24; 20:3, 15; 21:23; 25:11; 26:20).
Has anyone got any ideas for a helpful way to demonstrate the power of words to children? Here's some quick ideas I wish I'd thought of on the day:
- words on slips of paper inside 2 balloons - bad words in one ("gossip", "nasty", "mocking") and good words in another ("kind", "gentle", "wise") - then pop the balloons and watch them spread
- one of those (safe!) science experiments where something explodes, demonstrating the power of words
- kind words on slips of paper inside an envelope for each child
- something sweet and bitter in a dish for the children to taste (Prov. 16:24)
- drop a stone into a tray of water and watch the ripples spread, showing the effect of words
- a short drama
Across the middle, we pasted some words from Proverbs: "Your tongue has the power of life" and "Your tongue has the power of ... death" (18:21). The kids chose which to work on (as usual, the boys chose the "bad" mouth and the girls the "good" one - what's going on there?!). They coloured the mouth, and around the edges stuck verses from Proverbs in speech balloons, wrote an appropriate word on each ("gossip", "flatter", "kind") and decorated each verse with an appropriate picture.
And on the principle of "less is more" (10:19), that's enough from this mouth - or pen - or keyboard - today.