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“Water” for Thought

December 5th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 10: 11 (NLT)

11 The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;
      the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

As a youth pastor, most of my interaction deals with teenagers and college students.  Occasionally, though, I do catch just the slightest glimpse into the world of children’s ministry.  Just the other day, I caught such a peek.  At our church facility, the adult sanctuary, classrooms, and office areas are all located on the second and third floors.  The first floor is set aside exclusively for children and youth.  That’s where the playgrounds, patios, and basketball courts are.  Our students even have their own entrances to this level of the building. Just inside the main doors of the first floor is a water fountain.  This innocent fountain is the subject . . . or possibly the victim . . . of this thread.

I don’t know exactly how long it has had problems, but recently I have noticed that at times, the water fountain downstairs doesn’t flow exactly as it should.  One can depress the button and lean in for liquid refreshment, but they may possibly end up just as thirsty as before.  A few weeks ago, I happened upon this hallway on my way through the church only to discover that a certain little boy . . . whose identity I honestly don’t remember . . . was attempting to get water from this fountain.

Apparently, his thirst was out of control because his failure to receive water from the fountain sent him into a violent tiz.  Not knowing that I was standing behind him, he began punching and kicking the water fountain, probably hoping that his efforts would produce water.  But unlike Moses who received water after striking the rock, this little boy walked away as cotton-mouthed as ever.  I could tell he was extremely miffed.

Water is a necessity for life on earth.  Not only is seventy-five percent of our world covered in water, scientists say that seventy-five percent of our bodies consist of H20 as well.  Water is essential for survival One can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.  Simply put, water is the essence of physical life.  That’s why major cities and villages all across the world and throughout history have always been built near rivers or oceans.  People need the flow of water to survive.

But as much as there is a physical flow needed for life, there is also a spiritual one.  This passage deals with the flow of one’s spiritual life.  All throughout scripture, we find this truth: our words are what flow out of us and they prove what flows within us.  What we say is a reflection of who we are.  In other words, the substance of one’s heart produces the content of one’s speech.

Even in purely physical terms, the words we speak are the greatest evidence of what our lives consist of.  If I speak English, then one can ascertain that I am probably come from an English-speaking country.  My accent, whether British, Australian, or American will give away more specifics of my origins.  Even as Americans, when we hear the way someone speaks, we can usually determine what region of the country they are from.  Southerners are the easiest to pick out.  When I have traveled to the northwest or to New England, people always comment on my southern accent.  Why?  Because my words reveal who I am.

But words are about more than just dialect or accent; more important are the attitudes and the content of what we are saying.  If we walk away from meeting someone with either a negative or a positive impression of them, it usually has to do with what they have said and how they have said it.  If they come across pleasant and friendly through what they say, we make a positive determination.  On the other hand, if they speak harshly and gruff, then we walk away wondering why they are so mean.  Isn’t it amazing how just a few words can instantly produce so convincing an impression?  We may not have seen their house or heard their story or attempted to understand their family dynamics, but we still make a conclusion based off of words.

Words, you see, are the flow of our lives.  With our words, we have the ability to encourage, teach, build up, and correct; likewise, we have the ability to demean, criticize, gossip, and destroy.  As weak as most of us feel in life, we wield incredible power with our words.  In other words, we are fountains and we choose what kind of water flows out of us.

This passage states that “the words of the godly are a life-giving fountain . . . “  In my mind, the world at large is a lot like the little boy at church the other day.  People are thirsty.  They thirst for significance and relationship.  Forgiveness.  Genuine friendship.  Encouragement.  Purpose.  With each personal interaction with people around them, they push the human button and wait for what flows out.  If we live out the truth of this verse, then when they find their way to us, we will be ready to speak the very words of life that will quench the thirst within them, leading them to refreshment and revitalization.  

It’s not just about content, although that is the most important thing, it’s also about the temperature of who we are and what we speak.  Gentleness.  Kindness.  Peace.  Love.  Sound familiar?  These are the factors that determine the purity and temperature of the water that flows out of us.  And for the most part, these essential fruits of the Spirit are difficult to demonstrate without using words.  Love is the recognizable dialect of our faith and the refreshing flow of our lives.

Unfortunately, as this passage points out, the opposite of godly words aren’t so refreshing.  As believers, we must be accountable for what we communicate to a parched culture.  Is it love?  Is it gentle?  Or do they walk away from us even more frustrated because we didn’t let the love of God flow out of us?  It’s no wonder that so many in our culture have kicked the water fountain of faith– they may not be getting the life-giving substance that flows within us.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

When they push our buttons, what kind of water are we going to produce?  Water for thought.



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