Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say… Proverbs Youth Sunday School Lesson

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

Brief: Words can hurt. A wise person uses their words to build others up for their good, not to manipulate or tear them down.

(Printable Student Sheet available for Patreon supporters or with a purchase of Proverbs, Words to the Wise.)

Intro Question
If we say that we’re Christians, how can we show that in the way that we talk?

Scripture: Proverbs 16:23; 11:12-13; 26:28; 28:26; 12:18; James 1:19

If the wise person says good things and promotes instruction, what does that say about their heart?  

The heart guides the mouth.  In order for us to say something, we must first think it.  We think according to how we feel. 

The Bible often uses “heart” to mean the innermost part of a person, your core.  For our purposes, we can think of it as our spirit or soul.  So, if our spiritual life is doing well, if we are becoming wiser and are being instructed by God, we should most likely be able to say good things. 

But it also works the opposite way. If we are not doing well spiritually, we will have trouble saying good things.  The kinds of things that we say is a good indicator of how we’re doing with God and may clue us into an area of our life that we might need to work on. So, ask yourself, “Am I being wise in the things that I say? Are good things coming out or are bad things coming out?” And then, deal with the real issue, your heart.

Let’s look at some ways that our words could hurt other people.

Why do you think people make fun of other people? 

People look funny, they have a different personality, something they do annoys us, we feel like we’re better than they are, etc.

What are people trying to accomplish when they insult someone else? 

They’re trying to make that person change, or they’re venting their frustrations, or they’re having a laugh at the expense of someone else.

But if someone is bothering us (in how they look or something they’re doing or for some other reason), what could we do to resolve that situation other than insulting them? 

We can talk to them calmly and explain how they’re annoying us. We can remove ourselves from their presence and thus remove ourselves from the annoying situation. Or we could just deal with the annoyance and try not to let it bother us.

So, the Bible tells us to hold our tongues because it’s basically saying that if we can’t say anything nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. If we can’t talk to someone with dignity and respect as a person that God has made, then we should keep quiet.

We don’t have any right to talk down to someone else. When we make fun of someone else, we’re setting ourselves up as being better than them in some way. But God made us all, and we’re all equal in His eyes. No one is better than anyone else. So, if you feel the urge to insult someone else, take a deep breath and humble yourself. You don’t have any right to insult anyone.

Why would lying to someone be hateful to them?  

Lying is obviously hurtful to someone if you’re doing it to take advantage of them.

How could telling a white lie hurt someone? (Give me an example of when you told a white lie.) Take, for example, a wife who asks her husband if she looks good in an outfit. He says yes even though she doesn’t. A friend has something in their teeth, and you don’t tell them about it. You’re trying to not hurt their feelings or embarrass them, but it would be better for them ultimately to know the truth.

God’s standards do not change based on your intentions. He demands truth, and hiding the truth from someone, no matter what the motive, is doing them a disservice.

How could flattering someone be harmful to them? 

Flattery is only done when you want to get something out of someone. You’re buttering someone up. That’s taking advantage of them or trying to get unfair treatment for yourself. You’re being insincere, and your relationship with that other person is not being built on honesty and mutual respect. When they find out what you’re doing, the relationship is damaged. You will have lost their trust.

What good does a friend do by telling the truth?

If we tell people the truth, it might hurt them a little bit, but it’s for their own good. If we simply flatter them or tell them what we think they want to hear, we’re not helping them at all. We’re actually harming them in the long run.

What are some of the negative effects of gossiping? 

When people find out what you said, they don’t trust you anymore. Feelings are hurt. Other people think poorly of you.

What are reckless words?

Things we say without thinking first. We say the first thing that comes to mind and then, we think we shouldn’t have said that.

How can we prevent reckless words from coming out? 

Think before you speak. Ask if what you’re about to say is really going to benefit anyone. If not, don’t say it.

What are some ways that a wise person can use their words to heal rather than hurt? 

Encouraging people or speaking kindly to someone instead of making fun of them, telling someone the truth in a sensitive manner rather than lying to them or flattering them, keeping a person’s trust rather than gossiping about them, and thinking before we speak.


This lesson is included in my book, Proverbs, Words to the Wise: Youth Bible Studies on the Book of Wisdom.
Proverbs, Words to the Wise: Youth Bible Studies on the Book of Wisdom - Perfect for Youth Sunday School Lessons by [Wilson, Rev. Stephen R.]
Kindle $1.99, Print $4.99

Find more youth lessons on my Free Youth Ministry Helps page!

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