My “country aunt” was my favorite when I was a child. Not that her city counterparts weren’t wonderful people whom I loved, but Aunt Dina embodied a kind of natural beauty and order that I found especially attractive.
The time-honored practice of sitting down to the table at mealtime was a habit she refused to abandon, even in later years when that custom was challenged. She brings to mind a white linen tablecloth stretched and ironed to perfection, real cloth napkins carefully folded, and clean, sparkling dinnerware. Aunt Dina’s table always featured some centerpiece of grace and beauty.
Her favorite centerpiece was a silver basket-like bowl reserved for special occasions. From one of the several fruit trees on the farm she chose five of the most perfect golden apples, polished them with beeswax and placed them artfully in the bowl. Generally, the top apple retained a pinkish blush and two or three of its own dark green leaves. The effect was one of perfection and simple elegance.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Whether the writer of Proverbs had such a centerpiece in mind when he wrote his delightful simile, one cannot be sure. The image at once summons the idea of beauty and good taste. Coupled with its allusion to the apt word, the picture engenders some rather significant insights.
The word is the right word to speak when it is the true word. Silver and gold, to which the writer refers, are both precious metals, costly substances, that must be refined. The purer the gold or silver, the greater the price. The truth is often costly, but precious and enduring.
For the person who follows Christ, the true word is the natural word, springing from a heart that has been purified at great cost. “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts,” the psalmist wrote, knowing that the inner part determines the direction of the outward behavior (Psalm 51:6).
We will be responsible for our words as well as our deeds. People who cherish truth will heed the injunction: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
What a different world we would know if everyone did “speak truthfully to his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). It would be a world as beautiful as “apples of gold in settings of silver.”
Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word