Words fitly spoken

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
Proverbs 25:11 teaches simply and very plainly that our words are important. They can bring joy, peace, calm to a turbulent situation, or they can dish out pain, long-lasting hurt, and rabid violence to a single individual or a mob. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver,” is the exact quote I referenced in the opening sentence. Dr. John R. Rice translates the word “fitly” as “suitable,” and the reference to “pictures of silver” as “in a proper setting.”

Dr. Rice was a prolific writer, publisher, editor, and speaker, and my employer for a number of years at The Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, TN. I learned much from him in those good, growing years and saw his words and the work of that powerful ministry go out from the geographic center of Tennessee and spread to places and people all over the world.

Dr. Rice, Texas born and bred, began his ministry in his beloved state and founded his greatest publication, The Sword of the Lord newspaper, in 1934, just outside of Dallas. He both taught and coached at Baylor University and was a master at taking a deep, doctrinal, Bible truth, and stating it in such simple terms that a child could understand and react to it in an appropriate manner.

For the record, in fact, one of the very last things I personally saw Dr. Rice do on the last Sunday before he went to Heaven, was lead a young girl to salvation. He attended the morning worship service of Franklin Road Baptist Church, as did many of his staff members. Our family was sitting two rows behind Dr. And Mrs. Rice and Dr. Fairy Shappard. Dr. Rice, ever watchful, observed this little girl during the service.

When the invitation was given at the close of the service, Dr. Rice noted that the young lady paid rapt attention, and slowly raised her hand as the pastor asked various questions. However, she did not respond or go forward. As people were hurrying out of the large auditorium, Dr. Rice stopped and spoke with the child’s mother and father, and then sat down by her with his Bible in hand.

After a few moments in deep conversation along with the reading of Scripture, the sweet young lady bowed her head asking Jesus to be her personal Savior. Dr. Rice took out his white, pressed handkerchief and wiped the tears from his own eyes. His words had been fitly spoken in one of his very last acts on earth.

I also clearly remember helping to plan one of Dr. Rice’s last big birthday parties at the Sword. Gifts came from all over the nation and many foreign countries. He had celebrated many birthdays and really had few things on any wish list. People racked their brains to try to come up with fitting and useful gifts for him.

Miss Willy, who had been a faithful employee for many years, and who lived on a very limited budget, came in to the party with a big white box and a smile to match. No one could imagine what she had come up with to give her employer and friend.

As the gifts were opened one by one, Miss Willy waited her turn and then handed Dr. Rice her gift. Great tears rolled down Dr. Rice’s wrinkled cheeks as he looked into the box and then at Miss Willy. “You have outdone yourself, Willy. This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.”

In the big box, Miss Willy had placed a wooden picture frame she had found at a local thrift store. She had carefully sanded the wood and painted it a bright silver. Inside the frame laid seven Golden Delicious apples and a crisp little card with Proverbs 25:11 carefully spelled out. Miss Willy knew that was one of Dr. Rice’s favorite verses and she wanted him to know she had learned it well. It was the big gift of the event.

Dear Lord, help us to understand our words can mend, or wound, encourage, or bring sadness, help or hurt. Help us to be wise in our speech.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at 409 781 8788, or
[email protected]


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