“The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” (Proverbs 16:23)

The tongue can be used to build up or destroy other men. It can be used to persuade others to do good or evil. As Christians, our tongues should be employed solely to glorify Christ. We should seek to persuade fellow men to embrace Christ and walk in the pathway of righteousness.

The reverse was true with some of the members of the early Jewish Church. They were quick to judge others and be teachers of men. This was done in a judgemental spirit (c.f. James 2:13). Thus, James warned them, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1). He proceeded to rebuke them for the abuse of their tongues and exposed their hypocrisy. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:8-12)

The root of the problem lies in the heart of man. The early Jewish Church had permitted ungodly jealousy to reign in their hearts. This caused them to speak against and cut down their fellow men. Thus, James exhorted, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” (James 3:14)

Our speeches reflect the state of our hearts. Thus, Proverbs 16:23 begins with the heart. A foolish heart will speak foolish things. On the other hand, a heart full of heavenly wisdom will speak words that reflect grace and godliness. Christ Himself said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abun-dance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)

How then can we have hearts that are wise? By seeking God in His Word! As we read the Scriptures devotionally and hide God’s Word in our hearts, our hearts and minds will be renewed and kept clean from the filth of sin. Such a heart will know what the mouth should speak as it is filled with the wisdom of the Lord. It will also instruct the mouth to be prudent with words as it desires to please the Lord.

The proverb also teaches us that when a man is prudent with his words, he “addeth learning to his lips”. The expression “addeth learning” (yōsiph lehqach) here has the sense of “increasing in persuasiveness”. As a person speaks forth righteous words, the hearer will be increasingly persuaded to heed what was spoken. This is because the hearer realises that these words contain wisdom that is unlike that of the world. He will then be persuaded to walk in the way of these words for he is attracted to their heavenly beauty.

Why then are some people more effective counsellors than others? Per-haps the difference lies in their understanding of God’s Word. We may sometimes give advice that are purely from our own thoughts and experiences. Such advice lack persuasiveness because it is not grounded in the authority of God’s Word. However, when we speak prudent advice based upon the principles of Scriptures, those who are godly would want to heed these words because they are attracted to God’s truth. Therefore, if one wants to be a persuasive counsellor for the Lord, he must first know God’s Word. As he grows in spiritual maturity, the Lord will also empower his tongue to use it to point others in the way of truth.

Thought: Is my speech always with grace and seasoned with salt?
Prayer: Lord, help me to guard my tongue!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew


(RPG May 11, 2017) – Text: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

The expression “ye are the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16) appears twice in the epistle of 1 Corinthians. The second appearance is found in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” In that context, the temple of God refers to the physical body of the Christian.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16, the temple of God refers to the spiritual building, which is the body of believers. The word used for “temple” is naos in contrast to hieron. While hieron is often used with respect to the entire temple complex, the focus of naos is on the actual temple, with emphasis on the sanctuary. Paul was thus reminding the Corinthian Christians that the church of God is the dwelling place of God. God is in the midst of the congregation when they gather to worship Him because the Holy Spirit indwells the hearts of the worshippers. The temple of God is thus made holy before Him.

Note that the temple belongs to God and not to anyone else. It is not Paul’s temple. Neither does it belong to Apollos or Peter. Therefore, no man should form a personality cult because he is not the Head of the Church. Christ is the only Head and the chief cornerstone. He walks in the midst of the church and judges the thoughts and intentions of every man (see Revelation 1). Dare any man conduct himself loosely before the Lord of the temple?

Alas, in the day of Christ, men turned the temple of God into a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13). Today, many churches resemble the citadels of Satan rather than the temple of the living God. Herein is a warning: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy” (1 Corinthians 3:17a). No man can oppose the work of the Lord and stand. Therefore, the Corinthian Christians must stop their divisions and abhor all carnality. Nobody is to defile the temple of God!

THOUGHT: The Lord is in our midst as we worship Him.
PRAYER: Lord, help me not to defile Thy temple.

– Preacher Clement Chew