November 18 - 24
Apples of Gold
THE CAPACITY TO LISTEN IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE CAPACITY TO SPEAK. A young man asked Socrates to teach him oratory. Because he talked so much, Socrates asked for double fees. "Why are you charging me double?" the young student asked. "Because I must teach you two sciences: the one, how to hold your tongue, and the other, how to speak. The first science is the more difficult, but aim for proficiency at it, or you will suffer greatly and create trouble without end."
What goes on in our minds determines the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our speech. " 'For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks' " (Matt. 12:34, NIV). "The heart" refers to the mind, the source of thoughts, feelings, actions, and motives. Even as positive and negative actions stem from the mind, so do positive and negative words. The things we say have important consequences not only to the people around us, but to our own souls, as well. As you study this week's lesson, remember that our words are either a source of strength and encouragement or of weakness and despair. They either build up or tear down. As we allow the power of God's Word to control our minds, our words will reflect His love.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. The Power Of The Tongue (Prov. 15:4).
II. Words That Destroy, Part 1 (Prov. 10:19).
III. Words That Destroy, Part 2 (Prov. 26:28).
IV. Words That Inspire (Prov. 10:11).
V. God's Words (Prov. 30:5).
MEMORY TEXT: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).
Describe the type of power the tongue exercises. Prov. 15:4; James 3:2-12.
Jesus illustrated the importance of mind-control as the basis of speech-control in Matthew 12:34-37. The tongue is an index to the heart. The reason for the abundance of "mouth trouble" that afflicts us is the "heart trouble" with which we were born and to which we have added by our wrong choices.
Jesus said that idle words are sin. In the judgment, we are justified or condemned by our words. This does not mean that we earn justification by good words. It means that consistently good words are evidence of the heart change we have experienced, and evil words are proof that change needs to be made.
The only permanent remedy lies in the power of the Master Teacher, who can transform our minds and enable us to speak pure words. One way Jesus does this is through the medium of Christian education and Christian teachers. "In the highest sense, the work of education and the work of redemption are one."Education, p. 30.
How would you express Proverbs 4:23 in your own words?
How can you follow this counsel? Notice the context of Proverbs 4:23. We must cherish God's Word (vs. 20, 21). The question arises, How? "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13, NIV). We choose Christ daily, feeding on His Word, storing in our minds the positive truths and promises it contains. When we are tempted to give voice to evil words, we ask Christ for His power, claim His victory, and praise Him for it. By reminding ourselves of His Word and claiming it by faith, we can speak in a manner acceptable to Heaven.
"In the work of heart-keeping we must be instant in prayer, unwearied in petitioning the throne of grace for assistance. Those who take the name of Christian should come to God in earnestness and humility, pleading for help....
"He whose conversation is in heaven, is the most profitable Christian to all around him. His words are useful and refreshing. They have a transforming power upon those who hear them, and will melt and subdue the soul."Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1157.
|We have emphasized that what is on the inside comes through to the outside. Is it also true that our words influence our own minds? Explain.|
Destructive words come in a number of forms: lies, criticism, gossip, flattery, impulsiveness, scorn, argumentativeness, and anger. All such negative speech comes from minds that are out of harmony with Christ.
Identify the types of lying mentioned in the following passages. What will ultimately become of liars? Refer to a modern version if possible.
Prov. 14:5, 25 ___________________________________________________________________
Prov. 18:8 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 19:5, 9 ____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 20:14 ____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 26:18, 19 _______________________________________________________________
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. . . . Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment "Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 309.
What does the book of Proverbs have to say about strife and gossip? Prov. 11:13; 16:27, 28; 17:9; 26:20, 21.
|How does this counsel relate to the publication of literature specifically designed to expose the faults, failings, and mistakes of those who are endeavoring to bear responsibilities in the church? In light of biblical counsel, can you support or distribute such publications? Explain your answer? How can you apply the biblical counsel regarding negative criticism in the home, the local church, and the place in which you work?|
Why is flattery so harmful? Prov. 26:28; 27:6; 28:23; 29:5.
Flattery is insincere or excessive praise. A genuine expression of appreciation is not flattery. In the attempt to avoid flattery, we sometimes hurt people by giving them little or no praise. The ministry of encouragement can revitalize the waning forces of a weary soul.
Why is hasty speech so damaging? Prov. 29:20.
What are the advantages of restraint and caution in the way we express ourselves? Prov. 15:1, 28; 18:13.
"Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear." This is practical advice that can be applied, especially when the brain itself is in contact with Headquarters!
"The servants of Christ. . . need to have close communion with God, lest, under provocation, self rise up, and they pour forth a torrent of words that are unbefitting, that are not as dew or the still showers that refresh the withering plants. This is what Satan wants them to do; for these are his methods. . . . But God's servants are to be representatives of Him. . . . And the spirit that is kept gentle under provocation will speak more effectively in favor of the truth than will any argument, however forcible."The Desire of Ages, p. 353.
What do the following passages teach regarding scorn and anger?
Prov. 16:32 _______________________________________________________________________
Prov. 22:10 ____________________________________________________________________
|How delightfully practical the Bible is! It identifies the types of speech that cause sorrow, hostility, and misery: lying, criticism, gossip, flattery, and hasty, scornful, angry words. Assuming that at least sometimes you are guilty of one or more of these types of speech, what steps do you take to overcome? What counsel from your personal experience would you share with someone struggling with the habit of speaking unwisely?|
One way to describe something is to tell what it is not. This is not the only way the writers of the proverbs give instruction regarding proper speech. They tell us what good speech is and the effect it has.
How does the book of Proverbs characterize the speech of a righteous person?
Prov. 10:11 _______________________________________________________________________
Prov. 10:13, 31 _____________________________________________________________________
Prov. 10:32 _____________________________________________________________________
The manner in which Jesus spoke is the best example of the effectiveness of righteous words. Even the hardened hearts of the temple guards melted, for they testified, "No one ever spoke the way this man does" (John 7:46, NIV). The reaction of the two disciples who walked with Him to Emmaus was the reaction of people throughout His life and ministry: "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:32).
Jesus' words were wise, uplifting, encouraging, knowledgeable, and cautious. Even when He issued a rebuke, He did so in a spirit of love, with the intention of saving the offending person. He understood the force of simple eloquence and the power of silence. (See The Desire of Ages, p. 353.)
What is one of the most effective ways to lift another's burdens? Prov. 12:25; 15:23, 30; 16:24; 17:22.
Positive, encouraging words inspire both the listener and the speaker. Anger, discontent, selfishness, and impurity are ruinous in effect, while there is marvelous life-giving power in cheerfulness, courage, faith, hope, and love. Before speaking, we should always ponder what effect our words will have on the listener.
|Based on the experiences you have had with encouraging and discouraging words, how would you complete the following?|
"Man's words, if of any value, echo the words of God."Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 423.
How does Proverbs 30:5, 6 describe the words of God?
What are the results of relying on the Lord for words that will echo His character?
Prov. 16:1 _________________________________________________________________________
Prov. 25:11 ______________________________________________________________________
How do other biblical authors view the results of relying on God's words?
Ps. 119:9 ________________________________________________________________________
Ps. 119:105 ______________________________________________________________________
Matt. 4:4 ________________________________________________________________________
Luke 11:28 ______________________________________________________________________
John 5:24 ________________________________________________________________________
Rom. 10:17 ______________________________________________________________________
2 Tim. 3:16 __________________________________________________________________
Psalm 119:9. "Victory in temptation comes to those who effectively employ the 'sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God' (Eph. 6:17). 'It is written' was the way the Master met Satan's subtle allurements (see Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). . . . The mind must constantly feed upon the Word, else the defenses of soul will break down, and Satan will gain the advantage. A neglect to study and to meditate upon the Word for even one day results in serious loss."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 897.
|When you are physically hungry, you eat fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, etc. How do you satisfy your spiritual hunger? Or do you just ignore it, hoping the hunger pangs will go away?|
Are you satisfied with your speech? Do you feel that your words and how you say them represent God to those around you? To what extent do you need spiritual speech therapy? What are the areas of speech in which you would like to improve? Claim the following promises in your quest to answer these questions: 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; 1 John 5:2-5; Revelation 12:11.
Read "Words of Caution" in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 23 9-244.
"The world is indeed full of hurry, and of pride, selfishness, avarice, and violence; and it may seem to us that it is a waste of time and breath to be ever in season and out of season, and on all occasions to hold ourselves in readiness to speak words that are gentle, pure, elevating, chaste, and holy, in the face of the whirlwind of confusion, bustle, and strife. And yet words fitly spoken, coming from sanctified hearts and lips, and sustained by a godly, consistent Christian deportment, will be as apples of gold in pictures of silver."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 247.
SUMMARIZE this week's lesson by writing a brief statement that reviews each of the following sections of this week's lesson: The Power of the Tongue (Prov. 15:4); Words That Destroy (Prov. 10:19; 26:28); Words That Inspire (Prov. 10:11); God's Words (Prov. 30:5).
Six-year-old Isis [EE-sees] opened the door of her home and walked toward her bedroom. As she passed her parents' bedroom, she saw her father sitting on the bed. Isis tiptoed in and gave him a big hug. She flashed a smile and said, "Daddy, I love you! And Jesus loves you, too!" Then she turned and ran from the room, leaving her father alone.
Isis's parents were not Adventists, but they sent their daughter to the Adventist school. There she was learning about God's love.
Isis's father worked hard to provide his family with the best things in life. But the more they had, the more he wanted, and soon he had trouble paying his bills. He borrowed money to pay his bills, but when he could not repay the loan one month the lender threatened to take his house.
Worried, he borrowed money from another man to pay the lender. But soon he could not pay the second loan. He felt trapped and faced losing everything he had worked for.
Father saw only one way out of his problem. His life insurance policy would provide enough to pay his bills and leave his family to live on for several years. But the only way they could collect that money was if he died. Desperate, Isis's father decided to end his life. He bought a gun and hid it. Then he sat down on the bed to think.
But when Isis hugged him, he realized that no matter what happened, he could not do anything to hurt them! He went to find Isis. "Honey," he said, "what did you just say about Jesus?"
"Every day my teacher tells us that Jesus loves us," she answered. "Come to school with me tomorrow; my teacher will tell you."
Daddy did not wait until the next day. He went to find his daughter's teacher that afternoon. The teacher was not at school, but the principal and the pastor were. As they talked with him, he realized that without God in his life, no amount of money could bring him happiness. The pastor offered to study the Bible with him and show him how to find God. That week the whole family began attending the Adventist church.
Isis's father lost his job, and he had to sell their house. But he says that God used his little girl to help him see what is really important in life. Today the entire family are happy Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
Isis and her father (left). The family lives in Salvador, Brazil. Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Mission.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.
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