“The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” – Proverbs 16:21
Do you see what is wrong with the world? With others? Do you want to instruct the world with knowledge which they are in ignorance and blind to? Do you desire to persuade others into right thinking and right living?
In our age of social media platforms, we are flooded with information of the lives of others while given the option to comment. News and information swirl faster and more furious than the town gossip listening into party line phone calls in previous generations. This has arisen a generation which craves information for the sole purpose of commenting on everything.
Does God speak any commands of us as His people whom He set apart for His sovereign purposes in this fallen world? I have observed many in Christ’s name take up truth to mock those in error. I have observed many in Christ’s name compromise truth while communicating with those in public sin. Yet, in all our technological advances, our eternal God speaks the ancient words of the proverb above.
If I am to be of any use in the Lord’s service living in a hostile, sinful culture to persuade those in darkness of the truth, I must be “wise of heart.” Such wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (9:10). A heart without a healthy fear of God as righteous Master and Judge with terror to melt mountains is an unhealthy, foolish heart bent toward a pride seeing others as beneath them in intelligence, seeing their self-righteousness and self-justification of errors through the lens of spiritual superiority. Such pride will not only fail to persuade those in error, but it will also lead to destruction (16:18). A wise heart is a heart humble before God having been clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).
A wise-hearted Christian is discerning, as well. Though a gentle, kind, patient, humble soul, the Christian is uncompromising of God’s revealed truth in Scripture. What we know of our God is not simple opinions or theory but spoken to us by God’s eternal truth to we who are like fading grass (Isaiah 40:6-8). Our confidence in truth speaking is not simply formed based on our ways of thinking which we think are pure because it just seems right to us, but because God has spoken (Proverbs 3:5, 16:2). Our wise understanding has not come by way of our own thoughts or the thoughts of others, but the instruction of God (16:16).
Yet even here, this proverb does not simply jump into speaking truth. The wise-hearted and discerning Christian devoted to biblical truth has a sweetness of speech. In our modern culture, every call for sweetness of speech is quickly and arrogantly dismissed by calling people “tone police.” Yet, our God is our tone police. In a hostile, arrogant world rich with the mockery of sharp tongues, the tamed tongue of a Christian speaks truth from God sweetly to fall upon worldly ears accustomed to mockery and arrogance. This means the command of God upon your tongue and typing is in a studied way of expressing biblical truth using graceful, uncompromising language with a concern that hearers enjoy the great value of increasing in the biblical knowledge you are communicating. The sweet words of wise counsel in a foolish world are compared to the sweet smell of perfume in a smelly world (Proverbs 27:9).
The wise-hearted, discerning Christian with sweet biblical truth upon the lips now speaks. And that is the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. We make disciples by teaching them to observe all Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:20). We are not permitted to be silent or to conveniently skip over biblical truth. Yet, our goal is the instruction of others, the increased knowledge of biblical truth by wise instruction with sweet words. For the world truly is foolish. If we desire to persuade others to increased biblical knowledge to change toward right thinking and right living, let us be uncompromising in biblical truth, wise in our affections, graceful in our words, bold in our proclamation.
Heavenly Father, forgive us of any foolishness in our affections and give us hearts wise in Your Scriptures. Forgive us of any lack of understanding Your commands of us and grant to us discernment. Forgive us of any harshness or mockery of our sharp tongues and give us lips to speak sweet words. Forgive us of any silence and give us confidence to proclaim Your truth to a foolish world and baffle them. In Jesus’ name Amen.