Read: Ruth 1:1-22
This week there was a boat parade in Tampa Bay to celebrate the Buccaneers' victory in Super Bowl LV. Although my husband and I weren't watching the festivities, we heard about what happened during the parade. One very unusual occurrence that made the news showed Tom Brady, the Buccaneers' quarterback, throwing the Lombardi trophy from his boat to a nearby craft where tight end Cameron Brate caught it. Thankfully the trophy which is crafted each year by Tiffany & Co. didn't end up in the lake. As I thought of that trophy flying through the air, I wondered about its worth. The articles I read stated that it costs $50,000 to produce the 22-inch-high trophy that weighs 7 pounds. It is crafted out of sterling silver, and after the Super Bowl winner is crowned, the trophy goes back to Cumberland, Rhode Island where it is engraved with the name of the winning team, the date of the Super Bowl and the final score of the game. Unlike hockey, a new Lombardi Trophy is made each year, and it remains in the possession of the winning team. Surely a one-of-a-kind object, at least for a short amount of time, wasn't handled with its worth in mind.
That incident caused me to think. What precious gift do I toss around lightly, forgetting its value? What about words. They are truly valuable gifts from God. Proverbs 18:21 says that they carry the power of both life and death. Yet, how easy is it to allow them to pour out of our mouths without thinking first? On the other hand, when spoken with the Holy Spirit's enabling and leading, words can be the source of healing and strengthening. Let's look briefly into the lives of three women and examine how their words displayed bitterness, unfruitfulness, or sweetness.
In Ruth 1:1-22, we read the first chapter of a love story that is laced with sadness. Here we meet Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, three widows whose husbands had recently died. How could they survive without support? There were no special ways for them to make a living in Moab. Then a glimmer of hope. Things had changed in Israel, Naomi's home country. She would return, and her two daughters-in-law said they would surely go with her. Words of promise came from the lips of these two women. However, Naomi's words were very different. She was truly brokenhearted and bitter. She believed that God had raised His fist against her and that there was nothing promising for Ruth and Orpah in Israel. She urged them to go back home to their mother's house and to their gods. Orpah wept but walked away. She went back to what she knew. Her words, although the same as Ruth's, did not match her actions.
Naomi continued to urge Ruth. She should do as her sister-in-law had done. Nothing good waited for her in Israel. Yet, undeterred, Ruth spoke some of the sweetest words to Naomi. The young woman would stay close to her mother-in-law during her life, and she would remain in Israel until death. There's even more. Ruth would come under the protection and care of Israel's God. We learn later in her story that that was exactly what she did, Ruth 2:12. Ruth's words promised that she would leave all that was familiar in Moab. She would go to Israel, no matter what awaited her there. Unlike Orpah, her words were fruitful, not because she eventually married Boaz but because what she promised, she did. At the end of Ruth chapter 1, Naomi's words were still laced with brokenness, but Ruth remained at her side, where she stayed. No wonder the Bible speaks of the right words spoken at the right time as being beautiful and precious, Proverbs 25:11-12. In contrast, the scriptures warn against words being thrown out recklessly, Proverbs 12:18a. They pierce and wound.
Back to the trophy being thrown. Another thing besides its having not fallen in the water that was good is that it didn't strike anyone. That is another reason not to throw out reckless words. Someone might hear and be injured. We might not even be conversing with him when he is struck by the fallout from our careless words. What a good reminder to ask the Lord to place a guard on the door of our lips, Psalm 141:3. Instead of throwing out words without thinking, we can limit what we say when it will not be helpful, Proverbs 17:14; Proverbs 17:27-28.
I would like to finish these thoughts with a reminder of what even the simplest sincere words can do. When I was in school, one of my teachers wrote a short but sincere compliment on one of my writing assignments. Even today, though I don't recall her name, I remember her commendation.
Lord, help us to allow Your Spirit to teach us when to speak and when to be silent. Please give us words that promote healing. Help us to value Your gift of words.