This is the best time of year to enjoy some of the fruits of the season. The melons are juicy and sweet. The grapes are colorful and tasty. The strawberries boast luscious enjoyment and a sweet scent. Fruit has a way of satisfying our senses - both internally (our taste buds) and externally (sight and smell). There is another kind of fruit we might enjoy a little better if we realized we might just "eat it" at a later time!
Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18:20-21 The Message)
Good talk - fruit for our souls, nourishment for our minds, and health for our bodies. Now, there is a harvest we could ALL get into! We all have experienced the times when we say something without thinking, or get caught up in responding before we really take time to listen. The end result is usually words which seem a little "bitter" and with a tendency to "repeat" on themselves!
Solomon puts it out there - they are either poison or fruit - the choice is ours! We have a choice about the words we speak as much as the words we DON'T speak. Words have much more power than we give them credit for - like fruit fuels our bodies - words fuel our worries and ignite our frustrations!
Solomon has just told his readers a few other things about words in this chapter which really reflect on the type of "harvest" they will produce:
- Those which are spoken without thought are equated to those spoken from the mouth of a fool. "Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth." (vs. 2 The Message) Words often show just how much judgment a person exercises! A fool is one who lacks judgment - therefore, when words are spoken without prior thought, they are equated to be "foolish".
- Those which come from an inner place are often equated to being as refreshing as an artesian well in the middle of a hot desert. "Many words rush along like rivers in flood, but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs." (vs. 4 The Message) I had to look up what an artesian well really was and here is what I found. An artesian well is first of all covered by impermeable rock. The water which rises from this well is that which is coming forth "under pressure" - it rises to the surface because their is pressure exerted which lifts it to the surface. The water finds a path of release. It seems to defy gravity. There is no need to manually bring it to the surface, as with a traditional well. In fact, in its path from within, it passes through so many filters, it is sweet when it comes forth! Huh....now that is certainly some food for thought! When we allow time for the "pressures" to give rise to the words through a path which seems impenetrable, there is an opportunity for them to pass through the filters which might just purify them a little more!
- Those which speak first and think later often would do better with a gag in their mouth! "The words of a fool start fights; do him a favor and gag him." (vs.6 The Message) Wouldn't it be nice to have an invisible hand placed over our mouths whenever we would begin to speak something unwholesome, or cutting? Well, guess what? We have such a "gag" at our disposal - he is called the Holy Spirit!
- Those which speak before listening produce "sourness" much like we experience when we bite into fruit which has not ripened. "Answering before listening is both stupid and rude." (vs. 13 The Message) We have a tendency to jump to conclusions - don't we? We want to jump in with both feet - sometimes into issues which are not our responsibility, or which will not be benefited by our involvement. Solomon was pretty blunt - it is both stupid and rude. Okay...I used the "s" word! We don't allow the grandkids to use this word, but it really speaks volumes here. It means to be mentally dull, foolish, and senseless! Words which don't have prior thought often reflect just how "dull" we can be in our thinking. Words which are spoken in haste are indeed foolish - they bring out our worst, not our best. Words which are without some kind of "covering" are indeed senseless!
So, Solomon hits it on the head - we choose the harvest which is produced. We can allow pressures to create some supernatural filters in our lives, so words take some time to get to the surface, or we can give full vent to them with the dullness and senselessness of a fool. The choice of our words determines the enjoyment (or misery) of the harvest!