Proverbs 25: 11 – 12: 15 (The Message)
“The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend’s timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
15 Patient persistence pierces through indifference;
gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”
Solomon has some good advice on how to get along well with others.
I like his first statement – “the right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry”. When someone gives you an encouraging word just when you are stressed and working hard, it’s so uplifting. It’s just what you needed. I can think of times at work, or on volunteer committees, when decisions had to be made, and you wonder if you’ve got it right, and then someone says, we usually make good decisions, so stop worrying. You can just feel the stress ebbing away.
I can also think of another place where encouraging words make a huge difference. When you encourage your children by complimenting them on various things they do, it encourages them to continue doing all those good things. I realized over my years as a parent and a teacher that I tended to make comments about the mistakes and how they should correct them, more than I made encouraging comments. When I began teaching in alternative education where the students were already crushed and sure they would fail, I saw how encouraging words made a huge difference, and it helped those teens to really try and succeed. Solomon is right –
“The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry”. It’s extremely valuable.
And then there’s the opposite piece of advice. Sometimes you need to correct something. “A wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” I am not very tech savvy, so if someone told me I was doing something wrong with my computer, I would appreciate it so much. I’m also willing to ask for advice on lots of other things. But, if you are like me, I suspect that if someone criticizes something you are doing that you think is OK, you would go into protective mode.
When I look at Solomon’s advice in this instance, I see the words – “a wise friend” and “timely”. If someone you respect tells you that you need to change something, listen. Don’t get upset. That advice could change your life for the better. And if you are thinking about offering some advice to someone you know, make sure it’s at the right time. Be very sensitive to how the other person feels. Carefully think over the words you will use to make sure your advice doesn’t come across as too critical or harsh.
Solomon has some other advice about the words we use:
“Gracious speech is like clover honey— good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.”
“Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.”
Our song for today is You Raise Me Up by Selah