Do We Like Sharp Tongues?


“A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, ‘Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!’

‘You mean,’ she persisted, ‘that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?’

‘Look,’ he said, ‘If you like I’ll ask the manager.’

She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. ‘You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.’

He noticed the manager gesturing and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. ‘And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half,’ he concluded.

Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, ‘That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?’ ‘I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women.’

The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, ‘My wife is from Grand Rapids! ‘And which hockey team did she play for?’ asked the young man (


It’s interesting how a quick-witted person can be viewed in a positive light. They are thought of as being quick on their feet. They are viewed as intelligent and sharp. However, usually, this comes by stepping on and putting others down. Even in the above illustration, we might be tempted at first to laugh at the grocery store employee’s sharp thinking, but what he actually did do? He was disrespectful. He belittled the woman. He was deceptive. He was rude and mean. He lied several times. Sadly, when these are done in a quick-witted fashion, we have been conditioned to be impressed by it. Solomon’s divinely inspired wisdom in Proverbs paints a much different light about such people.

  • “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18).
  • “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (15:4)
  • Of the things the Lord hates in Proverbs 6:16-19, two of the ones mentioned are “a lying tongue” and “one who spreads strife among brothers.”
  • “An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble” (12:13).

Certainly, there are many, many more Scriptures we could point to. The point is, we need to be much more careful with the way we use our wit as well as the way we view others equipped with a sharp tongue. Sure, there are times when we can use our quick-wit in an innocent and lighthearted way. But let’s be careful, the line is an easy one to cross. Instead of insults, let’s lean towards encouragement. Instead of sharp-wit, let’s lean towards edification. Instead of tearing town, let’s lean towards building up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

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