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Something to read

Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

- Proverbs 4.24.

Something to think about

I suspect that there are few people who would think of themselves as 'devious' or would welcome that label. Nonetheless, it is rare to meet someone who always tells the absolute truth in every circumstance. We are likely familiar with negotiating 'grey areas' when we choose what to say and what to hold back. Perhaps we let slip small untruths, or omit information, to spare someone's feelings.

In the context of the wider passage, I think the author of Proverbs is less worried about these kinds of speech and more about 'crooked' speech that sends us and others off track, away from the good we might otherwise do. This kind of 'crooked', deceitful, or corrupt speaking has lasting consequences. It's like a signpost pointing in the wrong direction, taking us so far away from where we need to be that we struggle to find our way back.

To put away crooked speech, then, would mean examining who we listen to and why. It would also mean paying attention to how our speech is affecting the ability of others to do good and live well.

Think about who you are listening to - which public figures, organisations and movements are shaping your speech and thinking? Check the sources of information that you share. Think about how you can choose your words carefully to help others rather than throw people off track.

Something to do

When you engage with the news and current events, identify people who are speaking out in ways that are helpful and fruitful. Where are the voices that give you fresh ideas and new tools with which you can do good? How can you amplify those voices?

Something to pray

Jesus, grant us wisdom and discernment

That we may hear you speaking through others,

Words of truth and love.

Jesus, make us bold

That we may challenge crooked speech,

And raise up instead the voices of those who words do good.


Today’s contributor is Dr Frances Clemson, Faith Communications and Just Scripture Specialist at Christian Aid.