Lesson 8

Apples of Gold

(Proverbs 25, James 3, Matthew 12)
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Introduction: What percentage of the good and bad in your life comes from what you have said? Have you said something in the past that has made your life much worse? This week we look at the importance of what we say. King Solomon has much inspired advice on this topic. So let's dig in!

  1. Apples of Gold vs. Road Apples

    1. Read Proverbs 25:11. What do you think of when you read "apples of gold in settings of silver?" Is this something desirable? Something you would like to own? Or, something totally worthless?

      1. Since the text says we are talking about words here, what kind of word is like a golden apple on a silver tray?

    2. Read Matthew 12:34-37. How important are our words? (Jesus says they are "outcome determinative" when it comes to our salvation.)

      1. If we are saved by faith and not works, how is it possible that our words are so important? (Jesus tells us that our words reflect what is in our hearts.)

      2. Anyone know about "road apples?" ("Road apples" are what horses leave behind as they walk along the road. You don't want to step in them.)

      3. What approach would you take to having golden apples and not road apples come out of your mouth? (Jesus tells us in Matthew that our words originate in our heart.)

    3. Read James 3:4-6. Does James suggest that what we say comes out of our heart? Or, is he adding an additional idea here? (James is adding a new idea here. He says that what we say influences our thinking. Two things are happening when we speak. First, what we say reflects what we think - our "heart." But more than that, what we say reinforces our thinking.)

      1. Does that mean that a change of heart is the only way to correct our speaking? (No! This is an important point that we need to understand before we get into Proverbs specific advice on words. Although we must have a changed heart, we can (and should) watch what we say to help influence our heart the right way. This is an area of "works" that we must understand has an impact on our faith. We cannot change our heart, only God can do that. But, we can determine to limit the damage that our words do to our thinking.)

      2. Is watching our mouth because of its influence on our thinking the only reason to be careful about what we say according to James? ( James 3:5 tells us we can "burn down a forest" with ill considered words.)

    4. Read Proverbs 4:20, 23-27. Do you see any relationship between verse 23 and verses 24-25? (Verses 24-25 describe the "avenues to the soul." What you see and what you say influences your heart. Guarding your heart, according to King Solomon, is the highest goal. Why? Because it is the "wellspring of life.")

    5. I had a church member, now passed away, who was so missionary-minded she would often bring new people into church. The problem was her harsh and critical words towards current members. Once, when we were discussing her ill-considered words, she said "That's just the way I am, I speak my mind." I mildly suggested that perhaps she needed a change in the way she was. She did not see the sin in her words, but she could see the damage.

  2. Apples of Gold Illustrated

    1. Let's explore the right words. This week I was telling my son how, when I was a teen, observing my (younger) brother taught me a great deal about how to relate positively to other people. What have you learned in life about this? If you want someone to like you, what do you say to them? What "secrets," what "inside tips" do you have for attracting people to you? Helping them to like you?

    2. Let's read King Solomon's tips. Read Proverbs 12:25. Is the context important here? How important is it that our kind words be spoken in the context of a person's "anxious heart?" (If you know a person, if you care for them, you can consider what kind word will directly address their concerns and anxieties.)

    3. Read Proverbs 15:30. If I told you to put this text into practice with your co-workers, your spouse or your children, what, exactly, would you do? (You start out with a smile on your face. "Good news" to a person can often be a compliment on their work or their appearance.)

    4. Read Proverbs 16:24. What is a pleasant word? What is the natural reaction to hearing pleasant words?

    5. How you speak is a choice. What we have learned so far is that we should:

      1. Have a smile on our face;

      2. Speak in a kind way to address a person's worries;

      3. Compliment others when possible; and,

      4. Speak pleasantly.

      5. Will you determine to do this?

    6. Just how powerful can the influence of our words be? Read Proverbs 25:15. Do you want to break any bones? What does this text mean? (Persuading a ruler means you can change the course of the country. A bone is the strongest part of the body. Words are stronger than that according to King Solomon.)

  3. Road Apples Illustrated

    1. Read Proverbs 28:23; Proverbs 29:5; Proverbs 27:6 and Proverbs 26:28. I just encouraged you to compliment those around you. Do these texts show I am giving you wrong advice by suggesting flattery?

      1. How do you square Proverbs 15:30 (giving "good news") with these texts? ( Proverbs 26:28 is the key. Dishonest compliments tend to ruin a person. Honest compliments are good news.)

      2. Read Proverbs 22:10. What is a "mocker?" (One who insults people.)

        1. Does this advice about mockers, those who insult others, teach us anything about complimenting others?

    2. Read Proverbs 27:1-2. Is praise for others like flattery? Is it good or is it bad to give praise?

      1. What kind of praise does King Solomon say is wrong? (Self praise.)

      2. Haven't you heard the line, "If I don't honk my own horn, no one else will." Why does the Bible say that is bad advice? (If you are boasting about what you will be able to do in the future, the Bible warns that the future is not in your hands.)

    3. Read Proverbs 29:20. Have you ever been in a debate and later came up with a sharp response that you wish you had thought of at the time? We all want to be quick. What is wrong with a fast response? (This is where you words are quicker than your brain. You regret your hasty and ill-considered response.)

      1. Let's add Proverbs 18:13 to this discussion. How do you guard against speaking too quickly? Does someone here have some kind of plan that they follow to avoid responding too quickly? (Read Proverbs 15:28. The Bible tells us to carefully think about our answers.)

      2. One fellow in my office became upset, marched into the boss's office, and quit. The next day he thought better of it, and told the boss he changed his mind. The boss, to my surprise, told him it was too late to change his mind. That taught me to never make a snap decision or immediately voice my thoughts when it comes to changes in employment. It proves the wisdom of the Bible's advice on hasty words.

    4. Here is another "road apple" to keep in mind at the office. Read Proverbs 30:10. We don't have servants anymore. Does this advice about what not to say still apply at our work? If so, how?

    5. Friend, our words are important! Not only do they affect our heart and our life, they affect those around us. Will you determine to be more careful about how you use your words?

  4. Next Week: "What Hath God Wrought?"

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