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Gracious Words – Consuming Words

“Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious; the lips of a fool consume him. At the beginning, the words of his mouth are foolish; at the end, his mouth is madness and evil. And the fool has many words. The man does not know what it will be or what will be after it or who will state it to him.”

(Ecclesiastes 10:12-14)

When a man (or woman) opens his mouth, a lot can be discerned about the person and character of the one speaking. The words of a wise man, Solomon points out, are gracious. That does not always mean that they are easy to hear, but it does mean that when these words are received they build up rather than tearing down, they seek to strengthen and improve the person receiving the words rather than to mock and humiliate. A wise man has as his goal the lifting up of those around him rather than the tearing down.

A fool, on the other hand speaks and the more he speaks the more he tears down. Solomon is making it very clear that the fool in your midst is toxic and destructive. His words mock and taunt rather than strengthen and correct. And, the words of the fool come seemingly out of nowhere. They are unexpected and random in their origin — no one knows from whence they come. They are those random comments that people make that at best distract and at worst tear down. The fool has no interest in building up because he believes all those around him are below him.

So, with whom will you surround yourself? That is essentially the question that Solomon is asking. With whom will you surround yourself? To whom will you give authority in the church? What persons will find themselves in positions of influence over your life or your community? The fool may flatter at first, but his words do nothing more than bring evil into your life. Not grace. Choose wisely.