23Hiding hateful thoughts
behind smooth talk
is like coating a clay pot
with a cheap glaze.
24The pleasant talk
of an enemy
hides more evil plans
25than can be counted—
so don't believe a word!
26Everyone will see through
those evil plans.
The thing about taking a shortcut that diminishes quality, like putting a cheap glaze on a clay pot, is that it always gets found out eventually. In other versions of this text, the pot is cheap but the glaze covers it to make it look expensive. Either way, a corner’s been cut and the quality isn’t as good as it could be.
The same goes for thoughts and words. When one’s thoughts are hateful, smooth words might be able to cover for a little while, but that kind of behaviour can’t – and shouldn’t – go on forever. And in this case, the diminishing quality isn’t that of a pot, but of your character.
Instead of hiding hateful thoughts behind smooth and pleasant words, turn your focus on to doing whatever it takes to make those thoughts less hateful.
An interesting fact about clay pots: if you are planning to put liquid in them, like oil (as they did during the times when this proverb was written), they need to be glazed on the inside first. Otherwise, once the oil goes in, it will start to seep into the clay and wreck the pot from the inside out, while also producing a terrible stench that gets worse by the day.
Imagine what those hateful thoughts will do to your character if you let them seep in to all the nooks and crannies of your personality. It may not be very noticeable at first, but if left alone and ignored for too long, eventually the stench will become overwhelming and everyone will see through the smooth talk.
Gracious Father, you don’t just see the person I present to those around me; you see me for who I really am, down to my heart and soul. And it is only with your help that I can change my heart. Purify mine, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.