Dear Church Family,

In the life of our church, the past two Sunday nights have been particularly meaningful. This has certainly been true for me personally, but in conversations I’ve had with other members, I think this has been true for all of us. I’d like to take this newsletter to talk about why.

As we’ve begun working through the Book of James on Sunday mornings, we’ve been instructed to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Possibly even more famous is his upcoming section on the tongue in chapter 3. We have all hurt others with our words and we have all been hurt by others with their words. So, in order to prevent further hurt, we may decide to just keep silent. Sometimes that may be the best thing to do depending on the situation; however, we must not swing too far.

Proverbs 17:27-18:4 says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace. The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”

Solomon and James are not at odds with one another. Neither of them would encourage us to take a vow of silence. They would encourage us to use our words wisely. Proverbs 17:27-18:4 is about our use of words, but did you notice 18:1 in the middle of this passage? It says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” What does that have to do with our words? Here’s what I think Solomon is getting at: while it’s wise to restrain our words with others, we must not restrain them to the point that others aren’t able to truly know us.

Some of us talk too much and we need to learn to listen well. Others of us talk too little and need to learn to speak up. All of us need to practice using our words wisely. There is a wise balance here. So here it is: what’s made these meetings special has been the intentional way many of our brothers and sisters have let us all into their lives. We’ve shared in each other’s joys and sorrows—and we’ve all been blessed by it.

You see, we all need one another. God has placed us together in this local church in order that we might be a family. As we grow in our love for our whole church, we will want to know each member better. As members share themselves, our growing knowledge of one another fuels our growing love. Some of us are more prone to isolate ourselves than others. Some of us have a harder time than others listening instead of speaking. Regardless of our tendencies, all of us need to use our words wisely to allow others to know us and to allow us to know others.

One way—not the only way, the best way, or the primary way, but one way that can happen in the life of our church is through our time together on Sunday nights. If you’ve been blessed and encouraged by hearing from other members as they’ve opened up their lives to you, would you pray about how you might also bless and encourage our family by doing the same? This coming Sunday night (5/6) will be our last regular evening service until June. Let me encourage you to give some thought to how you might use your words wisely this Sunday night in love for the good of our whole church.