I think I understand the ideas and arguments to free speech, when it is OK to yell “Fire” and when not to.
The prudence of when to speak and what to say when doing so requires wisdom. As we journey through the Bible in rapid form, today we hit a preponderance of scriptures in Proverbs dealing with words, speech, our tongue, cursing, lying, and the like. We are drilled with the differing types of uses of both the good and the bad.
The author of proverbs does bring a plethora of sayings about the words which fill our airwaves, however, the sayings are not about words which come out of vacuousness. Solomon is reaching beyond the airwaves and into the viscera. Past our esophageal airway and into our heart. Words are really nothing in and of themselves. They have an origin. That origin is the wellspring of life, our splangkna, our guts, our heart. The Hebrews often equate the emotions of our guts with the kidney.
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Prov 16:23, NIV).
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction” (Prov 16:21, NIV).
Without being majorly redundant, the source and style of words a person uses is rooted in the heart. How perfunctory of us when we quote Jesus when he said, “But the things that come out of a person’s heart come from his heart” (Matt 15:18, NIV). It seems so oft quoted, it kind of has become trite.
Bottom line, what are the intentions of my heart? Rather than just read the words of the proverbial sayings mechanically, every time I read a verse pertaining to speech and words, I thought about intentions. These sayings ought to inspire us to examine the intentions of our hearts.
We should take those occasions when we are inclined to speak harshly as opportunities to reflect on our motives for speaking and to ask whose interests we have at heart. We may find that our motives are more complicated than we imagined, that we want what is right but all too often seek what benefits us at the expense of others. A heart that weighs its answers will also remember that little with love is better than meat with hatred (Prov 15:17, 28).