You know, we put a lot of weight on the words that others speak of us, don’t we?
And for good reason – words do matter, most of the time. They can build up, they can destroy. They can heal, they can injure. But not always…
Sometimes the things that are said carry no weight at all. As an example, think of the things you have said when you suddenly became really angry. Did you genuinely mean those things you spoke? Probably not. Sometimes we say things to impress someone, belittle someone, even misdirect someone. But these words aren’t appropriate, so they don’t carry force.
In the same vein, when we hear things spoken about us, and especially negative things, we WANT TO TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. We might want to react. But more often than not, we shouldn’t. We actually shouldn’t even consider what was spoken.
“Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 7:21,22
The writer of Ecclesiastes touches here on a solid point: in the same way our words don’t always mean a lot, we should sometimes view other people’s words as not meaning a lot.
There are some who might say: how can we determine if the things spoken are genuine and impactful? Fair question, but the answer isn’t complicated.
We simply need to develop the ability to decipher when the words are worthless and when they are meaningful. First, we consider the character of the speaker – it’s crucial. What kind of person said this? Are they respectable and honored? Or are they disliked and avoided?
Wise people speak wise words. Fools speak foolish things. Know the difference.
Second, we must look at the context – it has a big influence. When someone says something because they are genuinely involved, and want to help, that is one thing. When someone is speaking out of emotion or knows nothing of the situation at hand, that is something quite different.
Notice Solomon references a “servant” here in his example. Why is that? Well, it could be because a servant might have many reasons to curse his master, but not all would be legitimate. He might feel sorry about his life, or he may resent his position. Or he might just feel angst toward anyone in authority.
While we don’t have the servant/master relationship in our culture today, we do have many levels of authority and subjection. Think police officer/motorist, teacher/student, employer/employee, etc…
Many people say things (just look at typical responses to posts or videos) which have no meaning at all – they are unhappy and insecure people with too much time on their hands, begging for attention. Words from these folks just don’t matter. They really don’t!
Look at what Proverbs 26:2 says: “Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, so a curse without cause does not alight.”
Just like a bird can aimlessly fly and not land, so a curse undeserved and from the mouth of a fool, does not land.
On the contrary, words spoken by people of quality, people with integrity, people with wisdom…we should listen to these folks.
How seriously should we consider what we say? Just how important is it? Find out what the wisest man who ever lived had to say about it…cause his words do matter.