I asked my friends to explain the following proverb: “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered” (Proverbs 11:9).
“A bad person will never pass up an opportunity to be mean,” says Amber, age unknown.
It’s so easy to spot the bad guys in old cowboy movies. They look bad. They act bad. They probably smell bad! They squint, chew and spit. If only the bad guys in real life were so easy to spot.
The word “hypocrite” originated in ancient Greece, where actors wore huge masks. Now, replace the ancient actor’s mask with a smiley face of a work associate. Later, you discover Smiley Face has started a rumor about you that has everyone smirking and laughing.
“If someone tries to hurt you by saying something mean, you could go to your parents and tell them,” says Parker, 6.
Parker, you can also tell God your troubles. He knows how to deal with hypocrites.
“This proverb means that an evil person can try to destroy his neighbor, but if his neighbor is a good person, he will escape by being smart and not being offended by the evil person’s words,” says Trip, 11. “If some person is trying to hurt you with words, you should be smart and turn the other cheek.”
When we become offended by the words of a two-faced gossip or a “bushwhackin’ barracuda,” as Yosemite Sam would say, we lose perspective. We want revenge, and we want it now.
When you’re consumed with plotting the downfall of a slandering hypocrite, guess who is controlling your life? Don’t let double-crossers control your life. Escape their grip through forgiving, loving and acting wisely toward hypocrites.
Another proverb says that when you show kindness to your enemies, you figuratively heap hot coals on their heads (Proverbs 25:21-22). Sometimes, these glowing embers awaken a hypocrite’s conscience, and he experiences shame. Your enemy could become your friend! In the meantime, you’ll escape the quicksand of anger and bitterness that previously sucked the peace out of your life.
“If you are a good person, you will pray for your neighbor and not gossip about him,” says Taylor, 9. “Jesus made us to be kind and not mean.”
Jesus didn’t come to reform sinners. His plan was far more radical. He came to turn sinners into saints. He came to give us a new heart as part of the spiritual birth package when we believe in the Lord Jesus as our savior.
“Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” asked the writer of James as he urged his readers to gain control over their speech (James 3:10-11). Gossip and slander are inconsistent with the new heart given to every Christian. This new heart is a fresh spring of life-giving water from which words of blessing should flow freely.
When cursing, gossip and slander flow from a mouth, it could indicate that a person has not been born again. A drink of the living water (believing in the Lord Jesus as savior) is the only way to turn bitter waters into fresh spring waters.
When Christians are not abiding in Christ, they can wield a destroying tongue as well. Jesus is the only one who knows how to live the Christian life. When he lives through us, our tongues will be under his control.
Think about this: When God controls your life, your words will bless people.
Memorize this truth: “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered” (Proverbs 11:9).
Ask this question: What do your words say about who’s controlling your tongue?
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