“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is…A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 15:23; 25:11)
I was on the phone with a relative of mine who is struggling emotionally. Over the course of our conversation, I wanted so much to offer the right response and a good solution for the problem but found myself at a loss most of the time. I tried to know the right thing to say to help my relative. Now, though, I wonder if I wanted to have the “apt answer” because it would make me feel better. Here I am, providentially looking at Proverbs 15:23 wondering who is the man who is joyful at a right answer, the one giving it or the one receiving it?
The verse isn’t clear, is it? Perhaps that’s because an appropriate, well-timed wise answer is a win-win—both parties benefit. The receiver is the greatest beneficiary, finding comfort, help, and guidance for a problem. But the giver also profits from the practice of sharing wisdom, being strengthened in the ease of giving it when needed. Both are also helped in that the relationship deepens and encourages more instruction and guidance between the pair.
This week we will look at the characteristics and benefits of our wise words, which should be offered in grace and humility for building each other up. Our best communications are timely, gracious, gospel-based, encouraging, and sincere. Wise language improves relationships and encourages teachable spirits. Speaking wisely sometimes includes admitting that we don’t know what to say. However, it is better than silence, which can be misconstrued to be indifference or even condemnation.
Wise words are comparable to golden apples set in silver. What a beautiful picture! Can you see a sterling silver tray with an apple of gold sitting on it? I was curious about the existence of golden apples (not Minecraft apples) and looked on the Internet to see if I could find the monetary value of one. I found imitations, but none made of actual gold. Sage words are rare and Spirit-given; there are many imitations in our world, including moral platitudes, clever idioms, and famous quotations. But true wisdom comes only from Christ, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Like golden apples, this wisdom is valuable and attractive, created by a skilled craftsman using God-made materials carefully and diligently. The high-quality material has been molded into a pleasing form that everyone can admire, in a presentation that is perfect for the need.
Maybe a golden apple on a silver tray is hard to imagine in our casual environment today. Perhaps working on speaking words of wisdom seems like a lot of trouble to go to when our culture encourages us to speak impulsively and recklessly. But God doesn’t think so, and we shouldn’t either. Will your words be like “apples of gold in settings of silver?”