I don't think anything destroys a relationship quicker than our words! Yep, as simple as that may sound, I believe it to be true simply because scripture tells us our words are like little sparks that have the capacity to set an entire forest on fire! Living in the arid deserts of Arizona, I see the devastation one tiny spark can bring - changing the landscape for years and years to come in just that tiny ember. Words change the landscape of our relationships - they either sculpt them into things of majesty and beauty, or they whittle away at the life within the relationship until it is found to be diseased and damaged by all the constant whittling! One of the most common things spoken of in the Book of Solomon is the choice of our words - what we do with our words matters. Sure, there are a lot of other "popular" topics covered in the book, but a great many of the principles taught deal with relationships - those we cultivate with God and those which we deal with day by day on this earth. I don't know if Solomon was the best resource on relationship "ins and outs", but he certainly had a lot of opportunity in his position of king of a nation to evaluate what he records for us in these passages! His rise to the throne was in his youth - something which could have been either his undoing, or short-lived. Yet, he went to God in those first moments when he realized his rise to power and asked specifically for a double-portion of wisdom. As I have pointed out before, I think he knew he'd need this in order to rule well and to become a leader, not just king. I doubt he knew his words would become the truths people would turn to time after time again in order to find wisdom about choices, relationships, or even money. He simply needed guidance to become a great leader and he relied upon God to show him the way. In relationships of all types, we need to rely upon God to show us the way - to keep us from stumbling over our own inadequacies - especially when it comes to how it is we use our words!
Deceit causes trouble, and foolish talk will bring you to ruin. The words of good people are a source of life, but evil hides behind the words of the wicked. Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do. If you have good sense, it will show when you speak. But if you are stupid, you will be beaten with a stick. If you have good sense, you will learn all you can, but foolish talk will soon destroy you. (Proverbs 10:10-14 CEV)
Deceit causes trouble - foolish talk brings to ruin. To conceal the truth is to deceive. The one who sets out to deceive is actually distorting the truth so as to mislead the one receiving the information - there is a purposeful manipulation of the truth in order to either conceal some fact, or to make something look better than it really is. I think of it kind of like this when we tell someone everything is okay with us, but deep down inside we felt slighted by their behavior toward us. We don't want to admit to the truth for whatever reason, but instead, we choose to cover up or mask our true feelings. We are deceiving both the other person and sometimes even ourselves! What this does is set us up for further deception within the relationship and we soon find the well of deception gets pretty deep and very turbid!
Some of us have a tendency to hide behind our words - we use them as secret weapons we launch out there and then "hide behind" so no one gets wind of what is really going on inside of us. I think this is what Solomon might have had in mind when he says evil hides behind the words of the wicked. It isn't exactly deception here - it is just not being kind with our words. Evil or words of malice or ill-intent are often "masking words" people use to really keep others away from getting too close to them. Why? When others get close enough to discover the depth of their despair, or perhaps the "grossness" of their wounds from the past, there is a sense of discomfort and unease created which causes them to want to pull in or run away. So, they use words to repel people before they have a chance to get too close. If they are successful, they believe no one will ever discover what is hidden within.
Neither type of communication is good. No one benefits from either of these types of "sharing", do they? Either one or the other of the parties will be hurt by the words which get put out there - if not both. What I think Solomon had in mind when he reminds us of these two truths is the idea of keeping it real. He didn't want us to develop these tendencies to manipulate others, or to cover up the depth of our "ugliness". Although it may be uncomfortable to constantly live life on the "plane" of "reality", it has so many benefits which outweigh those complications which arise by living behind the masks of our words. Yeah, as a nurse I think of words as being those things which bring "complicating factors" into play within the relationship. What is a complication? It is anything which introduces (often quickly and unexpectedly) some difficulty, problem, or change we weren't expecting. Words have a tendency to do this within relationship, don't they? We often don't appreciate the difficulty they might bring once spoken. Whether they be words of manipulation and deceit, or harsh words behind which we think we are hiding, they create complications galore in relationship.
This can occur in our relationship with God, as well. Whenever we set out to deceive God - like telling him what he wants to hear - we are really only deceiving ourselves. God knows when our heart is ready to make the change he desires - whenever we tell him we are ready and we really are not, we are only putting words of deceit out there to be heard, but not believed! God doesn't want us to complicate our relationship with him by using either deceit, or masking words - he wants us to keep it real. If we cannot be real with him, we will never be real with others. He doesn't send lightning bolts to strike us dead because we honestly admit we kind of like our sinful ways! What he does is help us to understand how those sinful patterns within our lives really are taking us down paths which will eventually wear away at the core of our peace and will never bring true satisfaction into our hearts. He isn't going to be deceived by our words - but he isn't going to allow complications to arise within our relationship with him which go "unchecked" either! He wants us to get close to him and to do so requires this sense of "keeping it real". I guess this is why I shy away from the "canned prayers" of my youth and have gravitated toward just laying it out before him. I tell him of my struggles to even "want" to do right - because there are honestly times when I enjoy my sin more than I want to walk away from it! Truth be told, we all have those moments. When I admit to it, he is able to begin the work in my heart which actually brings me to a place of no longer desiring those sinful habits or desires. The same can be true for you, as well.
We may not hide behind our words, but I wonder if we are truly honest in the ones we share. We may not fling them out there as though they were weapons to ward off intrusion into the depths of our hearts, but we sometimes use them to at least "hold at arm's length" those who want to get close to us. Either way, we need to develop better communication "style"! Just sayin!