Speaking Delightful Words of Truth
1-3. How did human speech originate, and how was it developed?
1 Jehovah is the great Creator of speech. To him must go all the credit for this marvelous means of communication among intelligent creatures. And since all that God does is good, we can be sure that his gift of speech to man originally was one of those ‘perfect presents’ referred to in the Bible at James 1:17. Regarding human speech, Ludwig Koehler, an expert on words, wrote: “What actually happens in speech, how the spark of perception kindles the spirit, . . . to become the spoken word, eludes our grasp. Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.”
2 Thus at his creation Adam was given a vocabulary. He also had the ability to coin new words. He was indeed gifted with the ability to communicate effectively. Not only could he express his thoughts in good speech, but he also had the ability to understand speech. This we learn from the fact that God spoke to Adam, issuing instructions to him. In turn, Adam could communicate with Eve.—Gen. 1:27-30; 2:16-20.
3 However, at a time of great wickedness on earth, at the tower of Babel, God confused the speech of men. (Gen. 11:4-9) And so it is that there are today many languages, most of which have various dialects. Some of these tongues are spoken by small tribal groups and others are spoken by millions of persons. Man’s speech, like man himself, has fallen far from its original perfection. Frequently his speech is used to spread falsehood and to turn people away from God.
4. How should we use our power of speech?
4 We, as ministers of Jehovah, on the other hand, want to use the power of speech properly. We have the privilege of talking to people about the true God and sharing with them his thrilling message of eternal life in a righteous new world. To help us to do this effectively this Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook is provided.
5, 6. Why is it so important that what we speak be the truth?
5 Speaking words of truth. Proper use of the power of speech requires that what we speak always be the truth, in full harmony with God’s Word. Falsehood cannot impart spiritual health to listeners. So the apostle Paul wisely admonished: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words that you heard from me.” Why? Because that “pattern of healthful words” had come from God. (2 Tim. 1:13) Paul warned that some would “turn their ears away from the truth,” but he showed that the right thing is to “preach the word,” God’s Word. So we should stick to God’s Word of truth, using it as the basis for all the preaching and teaching that we do.—2 Tim. 4:1-5.
6 We are well aware that the right word spoken at the right time can start someone on the way to everlasting life or help him to stay in the way of life. (Prov. 18:21; Jas. 5:19, 20) So proper use of words is of great importance to each of us ministers, and the Theocratic Ministry School seeks to underline this fact.
7-9. What kind of words are usually most effective?
7 Choice of Words. Words are designed to communicate thoughts or ideas from the speaker’s mind to his hearers. This can be done successfully only if the speaker selects words that accurately express his thoughts and that are known or easily identifiable by his hearers. Effective choice of words does not come easily at first. Even wise King Solomon, the congregator of Israel, “pondered and made a thorough search, that he might arrange many proverbs in order. The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Eccl. 12:9, 10) So it takes mental effort, search and good judgment to find desirable words. At Ec 12 verse eleven of the same Bible chapter, the effectiveness of well-selected words is indicated. “The words of the wise ones” are likened to “oxgoads” that prod and encourage people along the road to life.
8 Simplicity of words is one of the first principles to learn. Words do not need to be complicated or difficult in order to make speech effective. In fact, simplicity is a key to understanding and thus a great aid to the memory. What could be simpler yet more majestic than these opening words of the Bible Record: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? You cannot forget them. So, too, the conclusion reached by the wise congregator after all his pondering: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Eccl. 12:13.
9 We want to avoid words that muffle the clear ring of God’s truth. We do not want to ‘obscure counsel by words without knowledge.’ (Job 38:2) For who will hear and understand “if the trumpet sounds an indistinct call”?—1 Cor. 14:8.
10, 11. How is Jesus an example for us in speaking?
10 We can all benefit from the fine example of Christ Jesus. His simple phrasing and illustrations from ordinary occurrences of life had a powerful effect on listeners. Recall his discourse given on the mountain close to Capernaum, as set out in chapters five through seven of Matthew’s Gospel. Flowery oratory? No. Ambiguous words? None. Jesus was concerned about getting the truth into minds so that it would affect the hearts of people. He truly had the mind of his Father, Jehovah. His is the finest example as to speech for all of Jehovah’s ministers.
11 Let us never underestimate the powerful effect of clear, simple, well-chosen words of truth. They can delight, they can inspire, they can move to action. Of Jesus’ speech the account at Luke 4:22 tells that the listeners “all began to give favorable witness about him and to marvel at the winsome words proceeding out of his mouth.” His apostles, too, found many eager listeners. This in spite of the fact that prominent Jews of that time perceived those apostles to be “unlettered and ordinary” men. (Acts 4:13) What was the explanation? They had learned their method from their Master, Christ. Is not that a great encouragement for God’s ministers today, both young and old?
12. How can parents help their children to learn to express themselves well?
12 Parents can do a great deal to help their children to express themselves well. Around the home fine everyday speech can be inculcated, both by example and by teaching. The principles of the Bible, which should guide one’s speech, can be impressed on youthful minds. (Deut. 6:6-9) Many families take a few minutes each morning to discuss the Bible text for the day as set out in the booklet Examining the Scriptures Daily, and at other times they read together from The Watchtower or Awake! This is wonderful training for the family, adding new words to their vocabulary and showing how these words can be delightfully phrased for more effective communication to others. In this way, too, the family are getting the mind of Jehovah on matters, and their speech will reflect that.
13-16. To benefit fully from the Theocratic Ministry School, what must we personally do?
13 Making progress by sharing in Theocratic Ministry School. With the help of the course of study outlined in this Guidebook, all of us who sincerely desire to advance in the ministry will be aided to use “delightful words . . . correct words of truth.” Regardless of age or educational status, if you rely on Jehovah’s direction and on his spirit you can make progress and advance in the Christian ministry. But it is necessary for you to put forth the needed effort. You are urged to “ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons.”—1 Tim. 4:15.
14 Effort on the part of each one of us includes determining to be present at all congregational meetings of Jehovah’s people, and then following through with that determination. Particularly at the Theocratic Ministry School’s weekly sessions there will be help provided so that you can carry out the advice of the apostle Paul: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 Tim. 2:15.
15 Each person, male or female, young or old, who attends meetings of the congregation may enroll and gain the benefits of this school. You may enroll whether you are baptized or not. Those who perhaps lack some school education should keep in mind that God foresaw that the message of the Kingdom would be heard without response by many who are wise in a fleshly way, of noble birth, highly educated from a worldly viewpoint. (1 Cor. 1:26-29) But he also foreknew that many who are despised from the world’s point of view would heed it and willingly pass it on to other truth-hungry persons. By enrolling in this school and by faithfully following through with its lessons you will be guided to knowledge that will truly enable you to speak delightful words of truth to honest-hearted ones. This will be for your own refreshment as well as for the refreshment of those who hear you.
16 Above all, by being a diligent student of this course you will be seeking, by word and action, to attain to that about which King David of Israel prayed: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14) Every Christian should have a strong desire to be able to speak well, on all occasions using words that will be pleasing to the Creator. The Theocratic Ministry School offers you valuable assistance in achieving that goal.