Day 36

How to Use Your Words for Good

Wisdom Proverbs 4:1-9
New Testament Matthew 24:1-31
Old Testament Job 35:1-37:24


If you include scientific words, there are over 1,000,000 words in the English language. The average person knows about 20,000 words, uses 2,000 different words a week and speaks about 16,000 words a day.

Your words matter. However, what matters most is not the number of words you speak but the kind of words you choose and the purpose for which you use them. The apostle James tells us that although ‘the tongue is a small part of the body’ it is extremely powerful (James 3:5). In the passages for today, we see how your words can be used, just as the apostle James describes, for good or evil. Each day you have great potential: either to destroy or to build.

In our passages for today we see six keys to using your words for good.


Proverbs 4:1-9

Get Wisdom at Any Cost

4 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
   pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
   so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father,
   still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
   “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
   keep my commands, and you will live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
   do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
   love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
   Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
   embrace her, and she will honour you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
   and present you with a glorious crown. ”


1. Listen to wise words

I do not want to get to the end of my life and look back with regret at the decisions I have made. Wisdom helps you to make decisions now that you will be happy with later.

In this passage we see the value of learning from the wise words and teaching of others: ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart… Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them’ (vv.4–5). A willingness to learn is at the heart of wisdom. Although it requires hard work, it is of immense value: ‘Wisdom is supreme: therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding’ (v.7b).

Here the focus is on the young learning from the old. A father teaches his sons, ‘Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction…’ (v.1). Children are encouraged to learn as much as they can from their parents. Parents have a responsibility to pass on as much wisdom as possible to their children.

All the way through your life, value learning, esteem it and embrace it (v.8). As my grandmother used to say, ‘The day I stop learning, I wish to die.’

It is not enough to listen to wise words; live them out (vv.2,4,5b). Put God’s words into practice and you will acquire wisdom.

If you gain this wisdom and understanding, ‘She’ll make your life glorious. She’ll garland your life with grace. She’ll festoon your days with beauty’ (vv.8–9, MSG).


Lord, help me to grow in wisdom and understanding by reading and listening to wise words – and putting your teaching into practice in my life.

New Testament

Matthew 24:1-31

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you in advance.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

   “‘the sun will be darkened,
     and the moon will not give its light;
   the stars will fall from the sky,
     and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.


2. Hold on to the words of Jesus

When will the world end? How will it end? Jesus’ words here to his disciples are about the future. He answers their questions about the fall of Jerusalem (which took place in AD 70), and about the end times (the question is in Matthew 24:2). The passage can seem confusing, as it is difficult to disentangle the two themes. Jesus’ purpose was not to give a specific schedule for the future, but to help his disciples not to worry or be distracted by what will happen.

Jesus says, at the end of this section (which starts today and ends tomorrow), that ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (v.35). There is a lot of uncertainty about the end times. However, some things are clear:

  • There will be lots of false claims (vv.4–5,23–26)
  • There will be upheaval, persecution, division and even falling away (vv.6–12)
  • The love of the great body of people will grow cold (v.12, AMP)
  • When it does actually happen, it will be obvious to everyone (vv.27–31).

The first time, Jesus came in weakness. The second time he comes, he will return in power (vv.27,30–31).

As you wait for Jesus to return, hold onto his words and refuse to allow your love to ‘grow cold’ (v.12). It is so important to keep your heart on fire with love for him, remembering your first love (Revelation 2:4). As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘Stir up love in your life – towards your spouse and towards your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. Reach out to others who are hurting and in need. Pray for people and bless them. Grow to the point that one of your first thoughts each morning in your heart is about how you can bless someone else that day.’

3. Discern prophetic words

‘Prophecy’ is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Listen carefully to the words of the ‘prophet’. This passage reminds us of the importance of genuine prophecy (although no modern-day prophecies will have the same level of authority as those in Scripture).

We need to distinguish between true and false prophecy. Jesus warns against false prophets who ‘will appear and deceive many people’ (Matthew 24:11). He warns that the false prophets will try to deceive people by claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ (vv.4–5). People will say, ‘‘‘Look, here is the Christ!” or, “There he is!”’ (v.23). Jesus warns us not to believe them. They are ‘Fake Messiahs and lying preachers [who] are going to pop up everywhere’ (v.24, MSG).

On the other hand, Jesus affirms the words of the true prophets. He announces that the words ‘spoken of through the prophet Daniel’ (v.15) will be fulfilled (see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). He quotes from the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 13:10; 34:4): ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’ (Matthew 24:29).

In fact, in his description of his return (v.27 onwards; see especially v.30), he is making an implicit claim to be the messianic Son of Man prophesied by Daniel (see Daniel 7:13).

4. Speak life-changing words

The words of Jesus totally changed my life when I was eighteen years old. Since then I have watched with joy, and often astonishment, the power of his message to transform the lives of other people.

Between the first coming of Jesus and his second coming, we have been given the task of taking this life-changing message of the gospel to the whole world. ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 24:14).

The words of the gospel are powerful and life-changing. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16). Never give up on the proclamation of the gospel. You have the great privilege of being entrusted with words that have the potential to change people’s lives in a radical way – for this life and into eternity.


Lord, thank you that your words are eternal. Thank you for the immense privilege of being able to use the most powerful words in the world to see people’s lives transformed by Jesus. Help me to take every opportunity to get this message out to as many people as possible.

Old Testament

Job 35:1-37:24

35 Then Elihu said:

2 “Do you think this is just?
   You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,
   and what do I gain by not sinning?’

4 “I would like to reply to you
   and to your friends with you.
5 Look up at the heavens and see;
   gaze at the clouds so high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
   If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
   or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
   and your righteousness only other people.

9 “People cry out under a load of oppression;
   they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
   who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth
   and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’
12 He does not answer when people cry out
   because of the arrogance of the wicked.
13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;
   the Almighty pays no attention to it.
14 How much less, then, will he listen
   when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
   and you must wait for him,
15 and further, that his anger never punishes
   and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.
16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;
   without knowledge he multiplies words.”

36 Elihu continued:

2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
   that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.
3 I get my knowledge from afar;
   I will ascribe justice to my Maker.
4 Be assured that my words are not false;
   one who has perfect knowledge is with you.

5 “God is mighty, but despises no one;
   he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
6 He does not keep the wicked alive
   but gives the afflicted their rights.
7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
   he enthrones them with kings
   and exalts them forever.
8 But if people are bound in chains,
   held fast by cords of affliction,
9 he tells them what they have done—
   that they have sinned arrogantly.
10 He makes them listen to correction
   and commands them to repent of their evil.
11 If they obey and serve him,
   they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
   and their years in contentment.
12 But if they do not listen,
   they will perish by the sword
   and die without knowledge.

13 “The godless in heart harbour resentment;
   even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
14 They die in their youth,
   among male prostitutes of the shrines.
15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
   he speaks to them in their affliction.

16 “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
   to a spacious place free from restriction,
   to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
   judgment and justice have taken hold of you.
18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
   do not let a large bribe turn you aside.
19 Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts
   sustain you so you would not be in distress?
20 Do not long for the night,
   to drag people away from their homes.
21 Beware of turning to evil,
   which you seem to prefer to affliction.

22 “God is exalted in his power.
   Who is a teacher like him?
23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,
   or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
24 Remember to extol his work,
   which people have praised in song.
25 All humanity has seen it;
   mortals gaze on it from afar.
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
   The number of his years is past finding out.

27 “He draws up the drops of water,
   which distill as rain to the streams;
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
   and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
   how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
   bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs the nations
   and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
   and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
   even the cattle make known its approach.

37 “At this my heart pounds
   and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
   to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
   and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
   he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
   he holds nothing back.
5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
   he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
   and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
7 So that everyone he has made may know his work,
   he stops all people from their labour.
8 The animals take cover;
   they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
   the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
   and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
   he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
   over the face of the whole earth
   to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish people,
   or to water his earth and show his love.

14 “Listen to this, Job;
   stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
   and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
   those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
   when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
   hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
   we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
   Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
   bright as it is in the skies
   after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendour;
   God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
   in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, people revere him,
   for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”


5. Avoid speaking empty words

Elihu’s verbal attack continued with his usual mixture of falsehood and half-truths. He said, ‘Be assured that my words are not false’ (36:4). Actually, they were. He suggested that our sins do not affect God (35:6). In fact, our sins do have an effect on God as we see supremely in the cross of Christ.

Ironically, he said something about Job that, although not true of Job, was actually true of himself. He said, ‘So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words’ (v.16). (‘Job, you talk sheer nonsense – nonstop nonsense!’ v.16, MSG). This is a perfect description of Elihu’s own speech. It is empty talk without knowledge. Elihu ‘multiplies words’, criticising Job.

The fact that we are all capable of talking nonsense does not mean that we should be silent. Rather, we should realise the enormous potential that every human being has to affect the lives of others through their tongues. You may or may not have the power that comes from money, fame or position, but you have the power and the potential that come from being able to communicate with words.

6. Put God’s words into practice

Elihu said a number of things in this passage about God’s words, only some of which are true (37:4–13). Thankfully, the Lord is about to speak himself. What a relief! We have had chapter after chapter of false comfort and empty words. We live in a world like this. It is such a relief when God speaks. The words of God are like manna from heaven, and water in a desert.


Lord, may the words I speak today be guided by the Holy Spirit. Put a guard over my lips and a watch over my tongue.

Thank you that you speak to me and that your words are so powerful and life-changing. Help me to hear your words, speak them and put them into practice.

Pippa adds

I find Elihu a bit of a bore!



Download The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel app for iOS or Android devices and read along each day.



Subscribe now to receive The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.



Start reading today’s devotion right here on The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel website.

Read now


The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Commentary is available as a book.


Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2018) p.1536.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • Introduction
  • Wisdom Bible
  • Wisdom Commentary
  • New Testament Bible
  • New Testament Commentary
  • Old Testament Bible
  • Old Testament Commentary
  • Pippa Adds

This website stores data such as cookies to enable necessary site functionality and analytics. Find out more