"A word fitly spoken," wrote the wise Solomon, "is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11 KJV).
Like Jell-O, concepts assume the mould of the words into which they are poured. Who has not been stabbed awake by the use of a particular word...or combination of words? Who has not found relief from a well-timed word spoken at the precise moment of need? Who has not been crushed beneath the weight of an ill-chosen word? And who has not gathered fresh courage because a word of hope penetrated the fog of self-doubt? The word "word" remains the most powerful of all four-letter words.
Fitly spoken words are right words...the precise words needed for the occasion. Mark Twain, a unique wordsmith himself, once wrote: "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
One set of words purifies our thoughts, transplanting us, at least for an instant, to the throne room of God; another set of words ignites lust, tempting us to visit the house of a harlot. Some words bring tears to our eyes in a matter of seconds; others bring fear that makes the hair on the back of our necks stand on end.
Now, let's return again to more choice words from the pen of Solomon: "The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd" (Ecclesiastes 12:11).
J. B. Phillips correctly assessed the impact of such words when he wrote: "If words are to enter men's hearts and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men's defences and explode silently and effectually within their minds."
The finest examples of that are the words and phrases of Jesus Christ. His choice of words. His placement of words. His economy of words. Even His eloquent turn of a phrase. The life-changing message of Jesus.
Being the ultimate wordsmith, Jesus wrapped up some of His most significant words in a brief statement we commonly call the Golden Rule: "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
What a classic example of "apples of gold in settings of silver."
Are your words fitly spoken?
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.