The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Proverbs 10:11 (NASB)
I try to read a chapter of Proverbs every day because the point of it is to give us practical wisdom that we can use in our daily lives. I can’t say that I do it every day; but every time I do read it – I am glad.
In reading chapter 10, a verse really struck a chord with me – verse 11. It shows a sharp contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Within this contrast lies a choice for us.
Based on the evidence, which one are we?
Automatically we all would clamor to be in the category of the righteous, right? Well the beauty of this verse is not only does it lay out the choice for us, it also demonstrates the proof of the choice. In other words, it lets us know how to discern which category someone (whether our own selves or someone else) falls into.
The two categories are: righteous and wicked. And the evidence of which category a person belongs to is in what comes out of the person’s mouth.
In the Matthew Henry Commentary, he refers to the mouth as the “outlet of one’s mind”. He’s explaining to us that what comes out of a person’s mouth is directly connected to what is in their mind. None of us can tell what other people are thinking or intending – but their words are the evidence of what they’ve been mulling over.
In the case of the righteous, what comes out of their mouths causes growth and life in the same way that a natural fountain acts as a constant stream and makes things be fruitful and grow. In nature, whenever there is a constant source of water, the area is lush, beautiful and can support many creatures. Likewise, a righteous person can be a support, encouragement and uplifter of many.
In the case of the wicked, their mouth is hiding the fact that in their mind, they are harboring thoughts of violence. Violence is defined by dictionary.com as ‘rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment’. Another definition reads: ‘an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws’. In the mind and heart of the wicked is their desire toward unjust and unlawful force – regardless of the scale.
Now, the writer of Proverbs often includes warnings within the text. What happens as a result of your choice? We only have to look further down in the chapter to see what the evidence will be of a person’s choice.
The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked is perverted.
The evidence that a person falls into the wicked category will be that eventually you will notice a pattern of perversion in the things that come through his heart and mind and out of his mouth. Dictionary.com defines perverted as ‘turned from what is right; wicked; misguided; distorted’.
The evidence that a person is in the category of the righteous is that what they say and do is acceptable in each situation. Some of the words that dictionary.com uses to explain the word acceptable are: ‘capable, worthy, pleasing to the receiver, satisfactory’. In other words, the righteous person brings to the table what is needed.
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What does the evidence say about you?
What should we take away from thinking about this verse?
First of all, we are blessed to have the scriptures to help us develop our skills in discernment. Being able to understand who a person is before we do business with them, date them, bring them into our homes, etc. is immensely helpful. This is literally God helping us to avoid heartache!
Secondly, this helps us to avoid being the person who causes heartache. As we guard our hearts and minds, spend time in the Word, it should be evident in the way we speak and treat people. I don’t think that any of us wake up in the morning wanting to cause problems or hurt for others. God laid out for us in His Word a way for us to double check ourselves to see based on the way we talk and treat people, whether we are living the way He would want us to. This means that God is helping us to both prevent causing problems and also to identify when we are the problem!
Finally, remember that our God is a forgiving God. His love endures forever. If after you some introspection, you realize you have fallen short in this area, it’s not time to fade away into a cloud of guilt and shame. You need to simply (though it may not always be easy) repent and turn from that.
Read 1 John 1:9. Ask God to help you. Intentionally spend time in the Word so that His Word will become more dominant in your heart and mind than any other ways.
The evidence is there for us all to see plainly in ourselves and others. Which category will you choose today?