Special guest post
“The right word at the right time can change a life for the right course and the right cause.”
What is it in words that make some people heal by words, yet others hurt with words? What is it in words that make us find something to laugh at in insults yet frown at truth?
We all basically have access to the same repertoire of words, regardless of language, yet the manner and style we pick, organize and use them can earn us enemies, create us fools or present us wise. Some people may describe hell in a manner that leaves you curious and longing to be there, yet others may describe paradise in a manner that gives a totally boring impression that makes you feel like hell might be more exciting estate to rent an apartment in – of course you know which way to go.
What is it in words that made Jesus prophet, Plato philosopher, Cicero an orator and Shakespeare Shakespeare? What is it in words that make us speak without saying a word? Ever wondered? There is more to words than just mere sounds. Words are more powerful than any atomic bombs. Words are not just words – they are thoughts evaporating from the heart cauldron. Words are expressions of the heart and that’s why the Proverbs rightly observes that out of the heart’s abundance, speaketh the mouth. Some people use words to gossip fulltime, yet some others employ them to encourage and uplift the low in heart. Some use them to blow their own trumpets, yet others employ them to praise excellent achievements. How we use words matter a great deal.
Sometime we may talk because we have something to share; other times we may talk because we just have to talk; yet some other times, according to Kahlil Gibran, we may talk simply because we have ceased to be at peace with our thoughts; and when we can no longer dwell in the solitude of our hearts, we live in our lips and sound is both a diversion and a pastime. And in much of the talking, thinking is half-murdered since much of the time is spent on expressing ourselves in words. Some people may seek to talk in order that they avoid loneliness. One beauty about talking to oneself, though, is the fact that at least you can be certain that someone is listening. Some time it can be a very healthy practice.
Our spring of words should tap from the aquifers of truth of our hearts so that, in Gibran’s words, the voice within your voice will speak to the ear of your friend’s ear. For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of wine is remembered when the color is forgotten and the vessel is no more.
In the kernel of wise words there is pure knowledge and great wisdom. Listen to the voice of counsel in the Proverbs: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you; understanding will guard you; delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech…”
In the words there is the secret of life. Listen and live!
At all times, we must strive to speak enriching words, for the wisdom therein is both a roadmap and lifeblood to life. Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Wisdom is long life; wisdom is wealth and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. By words, we can teach and inspire.
See how the Proverbs 4 stresses passionately on the value of words: Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight; for I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching…Let your heart hold fast my WORDS; keep my commandments, and live; do not forget, and do not turn away from the WORDS of my mouth…Hear, my son, and accept my WORDS, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life…My son, be attentive to my WORDS; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to him who finds them, and healing to all his flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Clearly, from this passionate prose, wise words are not merely a cage of wisdom, but in them resides pleasant life and longevity.
The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are treacherous. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers men. Through words, men of good sense are commended while those of perverse mind are despised. The scriptures reveal to us that in the beginning there was The Word; The Word was with God, and The Word was God. By words, God said, “Let there be light and there was light…” The Gospel itself is often referred to as The Word. By words, great men and women of the past, prophets and philosophers have been able to share with the world the pith of their thoughts. Wars have been brought to peaceful ends, not by the use of more artillery but by the power of dialogue. Words can make a child live ahead of his age while at the same time they can reduce a king to a mere village wag. As my Nigerian brothers say, “When a child washes his hands, he may dine with the elders.” Such is the potency of words. Their power is tremendous.
Drink more and drink long from the great proverbs, for their words are a healing ointment to the wise hearts; take time and soak your dry soul in the great counsel: An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble. From the fruit of his words a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man's hand comes back to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent man ignores an insult. He who speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Speak sparingly and weigh your words. Know all you say, yet say not all you know, for a prudent man conceals his knowledge, but fools proclaim their folly. Your words can make you or destroy you and that’s why King Solomon is quick to implore you to guard your lips, lest your words return to haunt you; He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. The talk of a fool is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. Words can make peace; at the same time, words can ferment war. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. And there is a promise for one whose ear heeds wholesome admonition – he will abide among the wise.
And now let us turn and listen to words of wisdom by one Abioseh Nicol, the late Sierra Leonean literature professor and poet as he shares on the value of words through one of my favorite poems – Words of Wisdom and Love:
In the poem, Abioseh likens words to oyster shells. As he says, “Many see only their outer hardness. But, the wise hold and open them and sometimes find within them hidden pearls.”
Dr. Nicol draws a rare comparison between words and lightning strokes because many people see only the frightening flashes. But, the wise pause and wait and hear the echo of their great thunder.
In the poem, Nicol further compares words to moonflowers by day because, in his own words, “Many see only their bunched leafy fists, but the wise linger after twilight and watch them open, spilling out their sweet fragrance.”
In a final, yet rare parallel, Abioseh likens words to high towering waves because many persons see only the hurl of their long angry curl, but the wise stand waiting by the white sand and feel the soothing trickle of their spent force.
Dr. Nicol taxies to a graceful conclusion, laden with words of wisdom. He pauses and ponders, stops and wonders and then finally his heart reveals to him that in words exists some gleaming pearl, some future majesty, some strange sweet fragrance, and even some promise. And with a total surrender, Nicol gives a parting shot, “I have gained wisdom and shall wait.”
May we all equally gain the heart of wisdom to have the patience; to pause and ponder; to stop and wonder. Perhaps the words we just heard hold within themselves some gleaming pearl, some future majesty, some promise, and not just hollowness. We may just unravel the unspoken words of spoken words because therein lies wisdom beyond vocal expressions.
Now then, let us strive to use words to counsel; to heal distraught souls; to imbue upon the hearts of men and women great principles and tenets of life that will change their world for the better. Let the wisdom and love in our hearts foam out in words of wisdom and love to those around us. Let us seek to cultivate the patience that absorbs the wisdom in words and disposes of their unpleasant coatings.
May your words help you to inspire and sow the seeds of your life purpose!
Taken from the book, Inspire Your Life And Soar The Majestic Heights
Chrisogonas O. Mc’Odhiambo