Proverbs 20:6-7, 14-18 (ESV)
 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?
 The righteous who walks in his integrity—
blessed are his children after him!
 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer,
but when he goes away, then he boasts.
 There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
 Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
 Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
Much of this chapter is about words. Words are not always trustworthy. Proclaiming love and faithfully loving are two different things. In the market deceit is a way of life. Haggling is how deals are made. Promises must be verified and guaranteed because people are not trustworthy. Wise counsel is sought because lives are at stake. Words are important, but words must be backed up with action.
It is exciting to be in the presence of a visionary who can paint a picture of the future. It is one thing to get excited about possibilities. It is another thing to be able to bring those possibilities to pass. Too often our words reflect ideas and desires, but they fail to reflect reality. Some deception is intentional, like a shady car dealer. Other deception is not intended but just as destructive, like the visionary who has more ideas than ability, more dreams than resources, and more passion than capability. That individual can sell an idea, but can he or she deliver?
Words are important. We need to careful of the words we speak, and cautious of the words to which we listen. We need to keep our promises. We need to deliver on our word. In a world where perception is reality, the idea of integrity of speech is becoming a lost value. We speak first and think later. We make promises without counting the cost. The downside is that we undermine not only our personal integrity, but the trust of those around us. We become known as the person who talks but doesn’t actually do anything.
It is better to be faithful than to promise to be faithful. It is better to speak a few wise words than to be constantly insisting that we are wise. It is better to keep our word than to give our word. As believers in Jesus Christ, we follow a God who always keeps his word. May that be true of us as well. Words are important.