Proverbs 12 introduces a theme that is set to recur throughout the book, namely the importance of our words. This picture made a big impression on me when I first saw it, for it reminded me that our words can either build people up, making them feel affirmed, secure and encouraged or they can hurt people, wounding them and leaving them feeling unwanted and insecure.

This is a theme that is dealt with in this chapter:
“The words of the wicked kill; the speech of the upright saves.” (Proverbs 12:6)

“Well-spoken words bring satisfaction; well-done work has its own reward.” (Proverbs 12:14)

“Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise.” (Proverbs 12:18)

“Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

The Bible constantly affirms the importance of our words. James tells us “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6). He reminds us “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10) Proverbs reminds us that we have a choice in how we use words and we should be careful what we say.