Can words be measured? Can words be weighed? What is the measure of my words?
6Â Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, And letÂ ×™×”×•×”Â know my integrity.
What doesÂ weighing and scales have to do with words or with integrity?Â Picture an old scale, maybe an ancient scale that uses weights for measurement.Â Now let us sayÂ YHVH’s instructions are the weights against which our words are weighed. Put the Word of YHVH into the one weighing pan and your words in the other. How do your words measure against His Word? Would you not like your words to be in perfect balance with YHVH’s. Is that at all possible?
We can use words in so many ways to achieve such a varied response.Â Words are important: YHVH used words to speak the creation into existence. He used words to guide His people in His way. He used words to warn His people of judgement coming when they were disobedient. He spoke through His prophets, and He spoke through Y’shua. He still speaks to us through His Spirit and His Word. YHVH -in His goodness- teaches us through His Word how to use words.
The question is: are we willing to learn?
There are so many instructions regarding speech in the Bible. It is worthwhile to do an extensive study on every single verse. I am however, going to do a general overview of what I see to be pertinent in our time. Let’s start off with a word study onÂ the Hebrew word for “word”:Â ×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×¨Â (dÄâˆ™á¸‡ÇŽr)
Â The wordÂ ×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×¨Â (dÄâˆ™á¸‡ÇŽr) is a homograph. That means it is a word with the same spelling that has different meanings depending on the context.×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×¨Â (dÄâˆ™á¸‡ÇŽr)Â can mean
- speak, tell, say, i.e., speak or talk in verbal communication
- to kill, destroy orÂ to take the life of another
- to have offspring 1
This is very interesting! It now explains to me how Solomon could have said that “life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21). We can speak life or death!Â Â With words, we have the potential to build someone up as a high tower and so enable them reach their true potential or utterly destroy someone in their own and other’s eyes. Words are powerful!Â We can do the same for ourselves. Negative words spoken to or about yourself become your reality of yourself.
I find it fascinating that “dabar” can also mean to have offspring – to procreate. Look at it figuratively:Â The effect of words can last a lifetime and can influence future generations as well.
“A kind word can last forever. An encouraging word can be the foundation upon which many constructive years will be established. Enhancing the self-image of a child with a brief but powerful comment can create a magnificent human being. Words that inspire are like the fuel that enables the rocket to fly high and far.”Â Â 2
The above quote is from a very inspiring book I am reading about kindness. I started reading it on our most-recent visit to Israel. I was sitting on the plane pondering, thinking of how to word a blog post about words in order not to sound condemning, self-righteous or negative in any way.Â It is easy to quote a few chinese proverbs or words of wisdom and make people feel good about their humanistic inability to do what is right. However, having said that, I don’t want to tickle people’s ears.Â I want to speak YHVH’s truth. I want to comprehensively learn and effectively teach righteousness.
We have a guide for righteousness -the Bible. There are heaps of verses in the Bible aboutÂ words and their impact. Pleasant words are good to hear and can bring healing to your body and soul(Prov 16:24). A healing tongue is a tree of life( Prov 15:4). A good word eases depression.(Prov 12:25) A soft answer makes anger go away(Prov 15:1). This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are merely a few examples of the effect of sincere and pleasant words.
Unfortunately, we as human beings have a sinful nature and speaking pleasant words does not always come naturally. Just put a human being in a stressful situation and through his words you will know what is in his heart. Is this also true for you?Â I want to survey a couple of differentÂ ways in which we can cause irreparable damage to others with our words.
We have resolved that we have the remarkable ability to speak life and death with our words.Â You have the ability to destroy another person in the eyes of another with your words. With your words you can sow distrust and discredit another person to such an extend that other people would choose to avoid them. I have intimate personal experience of this. I think we all do. Without warning you realize your dear friends or even family are avoiding you. Or else people suddenly disregard you. You are not invited or welcomed anymore. Then you full well know – you have been a victim of “lashon hara”.
Lashon hara and slander
If you slander another individual or gossip about them – true or untrue- you take the life of that person – in a figurative manner (Lev 19:16). Their credibility in another’s eyes are destroyed, maybe even forever. This is called “lashon hara” or evil speech. “Lashon” means tongue and “ra” means evil; so literally an evil tongue.
1Â Keep your tongue from evil,Â And your lips from speaking deceit.
16Â â€˜Do not go slandering among your people. Do not stand against the blood of your neighbour. I amÂ YHVHâ€Ž.
Speech is considered to beÂ lashon haraÂ “evilÂ tongue” if
- it says something detrimental about an individual
- is not previously known to the public,
- is not seriously intended to correct or improve a negative situation,
- and most importantly, isÂ true.
Statements that fit this description are considered to beÂ lashon hara, regardless of the method of communication method used, whether it is in person, a written letter, a telephone callÂ or e-mail.Â Â Lashon haraÂ can also be described as evil speech behind one another’s back.Â 4
Lashon haraÂ differs from defamation in that it’s focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose, rather than falsehood and harm arising. By contrast,Â motzi shem ra(“spreading a bad name”) consists of untrue remarks, and is akin to slander orÂ defamation.Â 4
Lashon hara is also taking up a reproach against your friend. This means to critisize, discredit or dishonor your friend in any way.3
1Â YHVH, who does sojourn in Your Tent?Â Who does dwell in Your set-apart mountain?Â 2Â He who walks blamelessly,Â And does righteousness,Â And speaks the truth in his heart.Â 3Â He has not slandered with his tongue,Â He has not done evil to his neighbour,Â Nor lifted up a reproach against his friend;
Even if a person simply hearsÂ lashon hara, it is still considered as if they are speaking it.Â Ref 4Â How are we then to react if someone shares something about another person with you?
17Â â€˜Do not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your neighbor, for certain, and bear no sin because of him.
“You are to reprove your neighbor for certain and bear no sin because of him”. Not reprimanding a person who is speaking lashon hara about another person will make you as guilty as he is. Therefor you will bear sin because of him. Very practical advice isn’t it? This is not easy though! I know from experience that it is easier to pretend that you didn’t hear what was said than to correct it.Â We have to train ourselves to live righteously, it doesn’t come naturally. Just remember when you correct someone: do it in love!
But what about teachers? I have often wondered what to do in a situation where you know someone is teaching untrue or deceptiveÂ content. Would it be considered lashon hara if you warn people about their false teachings? Carefully consider this.Â I personally would, firstly, verify what he/she taught against the Word and then contact them. No one person has all the truth – I could also be wrong, and moreover, I believe that the majority of people do not intend to spread false teachings. Let us give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Most teachers are approachable and will be willing to listen and respond to differences in a constructive way. However, teachers who are not open to listen and respond to your feedback, make all kinds of warning lights go off for me. Teachers like these are in my eyes false witnesses, and others should be warned about the incorrect or deceptive content of their teachings. It is our obligation to warn fellow believers if we can prove that someone willfully leads others astray. A word of advice here is to follow the principal explained inÂ Matt 18:15. Furthermore, anotherÂ word of advice: attack the teaching not the teacher.
A false witness is one of the seven things that YHVH really hates. There seven things are listed for us in the book of Proverbs. I find it very compelling to see that three out of these sevenÂ have directlyÂ to do with words: a lying tongue, a false witness and one who cause strife.
16Â These sixÂ mattersÂ YHVH hates,Â And seven are an abomination to Him:Â 17Â A proud look,Â A lying tongue,And hands shedding innocent blood,Â 18Â A heart devising wicked schemes,Â Feet quick to run to evil,Â 19Â A false witness breathing out lies,Â And one who causes strife among brothers.
7 Things YHVH hates:
- A proud look
- A lying tongue
- Hands shedding innocent blood
- A heart devising evil plans
- Feet quick to run to evil
- A false wittness
- One who causes strife among brothers
A false witness
We have spoken a little about this already. A false witness (Ex 20:16)is also someone who bears a false testimony or teaches deception. That is someone who teaches contrary to YHVH’s truth. Teachers who teach that you don’t have to keep the commandments are false witnesses. We also don’t need teachers to mix New Age beliefs into that which is already contained in the Scripture. It has become very trendy to mix the New Age (occult) teachings of Radionics or meditation -to name but a few- with the Messianic faith.Â These people teach lies, and YHVH hates lies!
YHVH’s Word is truth – His whole Word – from Genesis to Revelation and His right-rulings, judgments or ordinances are everlasting. It has not been done away with!
160Â The sum of Your word is truth,Â And all Your righteous right-rulings are forever.
17Â â€œSanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
A lying tongue
YHVH hates lying!Â We are probably quick to say that we don’t lie, that is something the unbelievers do, but that is simply not true!Â Is it acceptable to tell a “white lie”? Is it good to say you would do something and then not do it? Is it ok to imply something that is not true? You can all answer these questions for yourself. There is simply no such thing as a little “white lie” and the lack of integrity in our society is astounding.
Integrity is doing what we say we would. Y’shua taught that your “yes” be your “yes.” I have come to realize that I am also guilty of this. I think we are all to some extend. Have you ever told your children that you would do something for them and then forget? I know I have. How is that different to lying? It may not be deliberate, but it doesn’t make it acceptable. What do they learn from that? They learn that it is acceptable to say you would do something and then not do it.Â I am afraid that is not a good example. These small things do matter!
Be careful not to speak idle words. Idle words are meaningless words. Saying something and not doing it is idle words.
Â Matthew 5:37
37Â â€œBut let your word â€˜Yeaâ€™ be â€˜Yea,â€™ and your â€˜Noâ€™ be â€˜No.â€™ And what goes beyond these is from the wicked one.
1Â O YHVH, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?Â 2Â He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.
We live in a culture where it has become acceptable to lie.Â Falsehood has become commonplace. We don’t see it as lying anymore. Is it acceptable to be nice to someone but hate them in your heart? That is double-mindedness and double-mindedness is just another word for lying! Is it acceptable to pretend to forgive but, walk around with un-forgiveness in your heart? That is double-mindedness!
2Â They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
1 Thessalonians 2:5
5Â For we never came with a word of flattery, as you know, nor with a cloak for greedâ€”Elohim is witnessâ€”
8Â â€œTheir tongue is a deadly arrow; It speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, But inwardly he sets an ambush for him.
21Â His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords.
3Â Do not drag me away with the wicked And with those who work iniquity, Who speak peace with their neighbors, While evil is in their hearts.
24Â He who hates disguisesÂ itÂ with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart.Â 25Â When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart.
All the above scriptures have one thing in common – what is said does not correspond with what is felt in the heart of the one speaking. This is double-mindedness.Â Does that sound familiar to you? What do you do if someone lets you down? Do you tell them – “don’t worry, it doesn’t matter,” but in your heart you think: “how dare you?” That I am afraid is double-mindedness!
Alternatively, do you sometimes compliment another thinking the opposite in your heart? This is acceptable in our society, but we have to teach ourselves Â YHVH’s standards. We have inherited lies and deception. We have to be set apart people not conforming with the world and the standards of the society we live in.
One who causes strife
Another of the seven things YHVH hates is a person who causes strife. The definition of strife is: “bitter sometimes violent conflict, disharmony, infighting, disunity and discord.”Â Strife causes disunity among believers. Disunity is the new buzz word among believers. Some belief that we must all belief exactly the same, follow one calendar, do the same and think the same. That is simply immature. We are individuals and we will differ in opinion and interpretation, and that is good.
Disunity is not caused by different opinions but by pride and arrogance. Some people want to be right and will fight tooth and nail to prove that they are.Â That is what causes disunity. We can respect each other’s differences in love. We can fellowship with people of different opinion. We can choose to focus on similarities rather than differences. Differences are necessary for growth. It is how we handle those differences that matter. The key is respect and humility.Â Here is some good advice on how to handle strife:
14Â The beginning of strife is like releasing water;Â Therefore stop fighting before it breaks out.
3Â Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.
25Â An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in YHVH will prosper.
22Â An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
The next wrong manner of using words is by using profane language. Profane language is using abusive, rude, vulgar, obscene or desecrating words. This is definitely not something YHVH’s set apart people should be using. I need not say more!
Â Leviticus 10:10
10Â and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean,
2 Timothy 2:16
16Â But keep away from profane, empty babblings, for they go on to more wickedness,
We are quick to judge. It makes us feel a lot better about ourselves if we can tear people down in our minds. Most people struggle with a low self-esteem. They feel uncomfortable with their current version of the truth and are constantly measuring themselves against others. This measurement inevitably leads to judging others.
ThisÂ can be remedied by renewing of your mind. Be rather bold about what you believe, without being haughty or un-teachable. Be gracious towards others of differing opinion. Don’t forget – we only know in part – all of us. Respect other’s differing point of view without judging them. It is perfectly possible.
36Â â€œBe merciful, just as your Father is merciful.Â 37Â â€œDo not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
1Â â€œDo not judge, lest you be judged.Â 2Â â€œFor with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged. And with the same measure you use, it shall be measured to you.
We have to start focusing on the small things in OUR OWN lives.Â It’s easy to see the faults in another person, to apply a teaching to them, but we have to start with our own lives. Consider this verse:
36Â â€œBut I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.Â 37Â â€œFor by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.â€
Words ARE extremely important. Let us intensively study the Scripture and master the best use of words. We can take our example from YHVH. Let us think seven times before we speak.
6Â The Words ofÂ ×™×”×•×”Â are clean Words,Â Silver tried in a furnace of earth,Â Refined seven times.
My prayer is for Abba YHVH to set a guard before my mouth and to watch over the door of my lips(Ps 141:3). I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O YHVH, my rock and my Redeemer(Ps 19:14). Weigh me with accurate scales and know my integrity(Job 31 :6).
I pray this for myself and for everybody reading this. Be blessed as you are -with every passing day- formed a bit more in the image of Y’shua our Messiah.
Â Â Â WORDS
(We are all guilty!)
by EvaÂ 5
Words we speak can bless or curse.
Words can shame or even worse.
Words can kill, destroying life.
Angry words cut like a knife.
So be slow to speak and swift to hear;
Words can bring both health and cheer.
Words can bring love, joy and peace,
Causing strife and hate to cease.
- 1818 I.Â ×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×¨Â (dÄâˆ™á¸‡ÇŽr): v.; â‰¡ StrÂ 1696; TWOT 399â€”1. LN 15.34â€“15.74 (piel) depart, i.e., leave an area (SS 5:6+), note: Holladay also places Job 19:18; Ps 75:6[EB 5] here; 2. LNÂ 20.61â€“20.88Â (piel) kill, destroy, i.e., take the life of another or others (2Ch 22:10; Pr 21:28+), note: Holladay also places Ps 127:5; Isa 32:7 here; note: for pual Ps 116:10 cj, see 1819 piel; note: Pr 21:28 some interp as 1819 or 1820; 3. LNÂ 39.52â€“39.61Â (hif) subdue, i.e., to conquer and so control another or others (Ps 18:48[EB 47]; 47:4[EB 3]+)
1819 II.Â ×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×¨Â (dÄâˆ™á¸‡ÇŽr): v.; â‰¡ StrÂ 1696; TWOT 399â€”LNÂ 33.69â€“33.108Â (qal) speak, tell, say, i.e., speak or talk in verbal communication, with a possible focus on the aloud-sounds and content of verbalization (Zec 2:2[EB 1:19]), note: Job 19:18, Pr 21:28 in oth is interp as 1818, note: (piel) oth Jer 9:7 parsed as 1825; (qal pass.) be spoken (Pr 25:11+); (nif) talk together, converse together (Ps 119:23; Eze 33:30; Mal 3:13, 16+); (piel) speak (Ge 18:27); (pual) be said, be spoken (Ps 87:3; SS 8:8+); (hif) see 1818; (hitp) speak from between or inside (Nu 7:89; Eze 2:2; 43:6+), note: context in English allows for many different translation words as one fine-tunes the meaning; here are some possible translation options: â€œaddress, announce, argue, ask, boast, command, complain, declare, decreed, describe, direct, discuss, encourage, explain, foretell, give opinion, instruct, invite, mention, name, order, plead, pray, preach, predict, proclaim, promise, propose, recite, repeat, reply, report, say, sing, slander, speak, state, talk, teach, tell, threaten, urge, utter, warnâ€; note: further study may yield more domains
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, KindnessÂ – Changing people’s lives for the better, Artscroll Publishers, ISBN 10: 1-57819-477-6
- 1 reâ€¢proach \ri-ËˆprÅch\ noun
1Â Â Â Â Â : an expression of rebuke or disapproval
2Â Â Â Â Â : the act or action of reproaching or disapprovingÂ ã€ˆwas beyond reproachã€‰
3Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â a : a cause or occasion of blame, discredit, or disgrace
b : DISCREDIT, DISGRACE
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
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