"Don't give me any of your lip, don't be a smart aleck, or don't you talk to me with that smart mouth", are just a few of the sayings I was reminded of quite often growing up. These sayings are used when someone is disrespecting someone in authority or is used when someone is a "know-it-all." I can remember seeing classmates talk to teachers with that kind of attitude and could not believe they could get away with it.
As we are going through the life of Solomon, we see that in his early years he was a man of wise lips. Throughout Proverbs he uses the term foolish and wise or righteous in contrast to one another. I'd like to say a smart mouth is the foolish one and the wise lips is the righteous one.
A particular proverb that I try to live by is "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) Thumper says it like this in the movie Bambi, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." This is probably more familiar to most than King Solomon's saying.
What is it about the attitude in which we speak that can stir up anger. Unfortunately today because of so much written correspondence, for example email, the reader can get stirred up with anger because of a few words that did not translate well. Personally, I try to put a happy face at the end of many of my sentences so they don't get misinterpreted.
The first twelve verses in the book of James, chapter 3 talk about how dangerous the tongue can be. The book of James would probably be the New Testament's book of Proverbs. It too talks about wisdom and the foolishness of the tongue when it is not tamed. James 3:5 & 6 says "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. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
I ask you today to reflect a bit how you speak to others. Do you speak to others as though you are always right and that you know-it-all? Or, do you choose your words carefully? Proverbs 17:27 says "A man (woman) of knowledge (knowledge is knowing what God is doing) uses words with restraint, and a man (woman) of understanding (knowing what God wants you to do about it) is even-tempered." Don't be a smart mouth. Instead be a person of wise lips.