Sticks & Stones

Bible '22  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:58
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Okay…but they can.
But, where do hurtful words come from? Why do people lash out?
Jesus would say that what you say comes from the heart:
Matthew 12:34 ESV
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Jesus says that your words are a manifestation of your heart.
Why we say:
“Hurt people hurt people.”
We find, however, opportunities for words to have different effects.
For me, weddings, funerals, counseling, sharing the Gospel, teaching, preaching.
Our words can serve to create community, broker peace, give hope.
To change your words you must change your heart.
This is what these Proverbs are about: examining the heart to change how we speak.

Isolation from community insulates from wisdom.

vv. 1-2
The writer begins by pointing out the danger of one who has entered into an echo chamber.
Where the only voices a person hears agree with him, thus reinforcing sometimes false ideas.
For this person in v. 1, he is limiting his interactions with anyone but themselves, thus thinking they are the only correct person.
The result? They believe their own lies.
For the fool, this is okay! They only want to express their own opinion! Never hearing or engaging in anything else.
How to avoid this behavior?
Connect in community.
This is why Sunday school classes are so important!
Relationships that exist beyond that weekly one hour period.
The church is the body of believers and we exist beyond the walls of this building!
Be intentional about building those relationships and allow others to speak wisdom into you.
Some who say, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”
Technically true. But there is a reason Scripture says:
Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
It is this verse which inspired the story of an old preacher who went to visit someone whose name was on his church roll, but hadn’t darkened the doors in years.
They went to visit and, sitting in front of his fireplace, he was told that very thing. This preacher took the tongs beside the fireplace and removed a single burning red ember and set it upon the stone hearth in front of the fire. Slowly, that red turned to black and the heat turned to cold. Got up and left.
Community is important to keep us who we need to be.
Otherwise, this isolation creates a space that is filled with wickedness.

Internal wickedness becomes external shame.

vv. 3-5
If insulation, which insulates from wisdom, creates wickedness, then those actions define your reputation.
Wickedness, which is internal, leads to contempt. And with that dishonor comes disgrace.
What is happening on the inside will work its way to the outside.
One can only hide inner wickedness for so long.
Too many people have thought they could just have a little sin, just a little wickedness...
Then it surfaces to wreak havoc!
This internal state must be examined.
Examine influences.
As Will Rogers said:
“Always drink upstream from the herd.”
To prevent that external shame, we need to be aware of what’s upstream...
What effect are your friends having on you? Entertainment? News channels? Social media?
Again, this is where community comes in that you have people that can identify in you and offer an external observation.
We need people like v. 4 exhibits. People who are deep thinking and give refreshing words.

A foolish heart bears fruit of difficulty.

vv. 6-7
We’ve all seen people who are like the one described in v. 6.
Maybe in your family. Every family has that one person that you are relieved when they don’t show up for Thanksgiving.
And if you can’t think of that person… maybe you are that person!
This is the person who has no filter.
The source of that is their own foolishness.
Isolated from a wise community. Not examining their influences.
Not heeding the advise in Proverbs 15:1:
Proverbs 15:1 ESV
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
For many people, their lives are made more difficult because of their mouth.
They find themselves isolated, which perpetuates isolation from wisdom.
They find themselves passed over for jobs and opportunities because people simply don’t want to be around them.
Nobody wants to be in that situation, but the good news is that you can take ownership of change!
Change your heart, change your mouth.

Laziness brings destructive words.

vv. 8-9
Gossip can be defined as:
“A report, true or false, to inappropriate people or at inappropriate times.”
And gossip can destroy. Maybe it is untrue - and it damages a person’s reputation.
Maybe it is true - and none of your business. Something they are working on.
Sometimes disguised as a prayer request.
But, they “go down into the inner parts.” We tend to believe them.
One of the tools that the enemy uses to stir up dissension in a growing church.
Often these are passed along by a “busybody.”
People who don’t have anything else to do so they create drama.
When people gossip they either get super quiet or super loud.
And people lean in to hear because they are those “delicious morsels.”
People want to have that insider information.
Delicious morsel = related to a verb meaning “to swallow greedily.”
The state fair will be here in less than two months, Sept. 15 - 25.
I’m at the age where I want to go for the cars and the food.
When I was a kid, we would live there for several days because we had show cattle.
I lived off of Dan’s Famous Indian Tacos.
Now, the common fair foods are whatever they have figured out how to fry.
Fried Oreos, Fried PB&J, Fried deviled eggs, Fried macaroni & cheese, Fried Butter, Fried Bubblegum, Fried Cadbury Cream Eggs...
Can be delicious…but completely unhealthy!
Ask yourself two question:
Is it true?
Is it helpful?
If either of those is no, then let it die with you.

Faith changes your language.

v. 10
You may very well remember the wildfires that raced through this area in April of 2009.
51 homes destroyed in MWC and Choctaw. 34 people had to be treated.
Gusts up to 60 mph with sustained winds around 30 mph kept the fires moving across our community.
And it all started with a spark. Some kids playing at an old, abandoned camper.
Such a small thing created so much devastation.
Many of us were evacuated from our homes and our neighborhoods. Gathered here in this parking lot until forced to leave.
We had to flee to a place of safety.
James describes the dangers of our words in a similar way:
James 3:5 ESV
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
So we need a place to go for safety.
The strong tower - where people could flee when under attack.
A defensible position.
When we go to God, we find that He gives us safety.
Faith in Jesus changes the heart.
And a changed heart changes the mouth.
May we be a people who use our words to build one another up!
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