We live in a prosperous society where almost everyone is a writer. We write books, school papers, blog posts, emails, tweets, and texts. When we want to communicate, we turn to a keyboard or touch screen and write.
Written (or typed) communication has plenty of ups and downs, which I won’t belabor here. I’m guessing you’ve felt the sting of a hasty text, lost sleep over a Facebook comment, or let a “root of bitterness” grow out of an email exchange.
Whether you’re writing a novel or commenting on Instagram, God offers guidance for your writing in Ecclesiastes 12. Ecclesiastes was written by “the Preacher,” most likely King Solomon, who is known for his wisdom.
“Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are giving by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-12, ESV)
Here are eight tips we can pick up from this summary of King Solomon’s approach to writing:
1) Realize that writing is teaching. “The Preacher taught the people knowledge.” Your writing will influence someone in some way. Understand the seriousness of everything you write, and let that seriousness motivate you to pay attention to these other tips.
2) Don’t be hasty. The Preacher weighed what he wrote. Consider two things about your words: their truthfulness and their impact.
3) Study. The Preacher studied before he wrote. Do your research. Make sure an internet article is true before you share it.
4) Think, edit, and rearrange. The Preacher arranged many proverbs. Say the best thing in the best way.
5) Find words of delight. “The Preacher sought to find words of delight.” Say things that sound pleasant and bring joy. No one wants to listen to your whining.
6) Write what is true. “He wrote words of truth.” Although writing should be pleasant, don’t let the pleasantness of a word entice you to write something false. Don’t say only what people want to hear. Don’t repeat beautiful lies.
7) Write what accords with God’s Word. “My son, beware of anything beyond these.” Let the Bible be your measure of truth. Ask if what you are writing undermines the Bible in way.
8) Realize that study and writing are wearying tasks. “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh.” Don’t let your writing steal your joy. Be content with your limits. Rejoice in knowing that everything essential has already been written.
May these words of Solomon guide you as you seek to honor God in your writing.
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