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Question: Please explain more in depth what the following verses mean so I can explain to my children's Sunday School class: Proverbs 10:31; Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 25:15; and Proverbs 25:23.
Answer: I see your predicament in having to make these verses intelligible to children ages 8-11.
Children that age are probably not able to understand "metaphors", so we can say that something is "like" something else, and we can start by using Jesus' saying in Luke 6:43-45. Jesus tells us here that a good tree brings forth good fruit, and a bad tree brings forth bad fruit. We can tell whether a tree is bad or good by sampling the ripened fruit in the fall; apples, peaches, pears, etc.
Now, Jesus compares us human beings with trees in verse 45. The way a person lives, and very importantly, the things a person says, show what kind of a person he/she is. If we say and do things that are evil, that shows that our hearts are evil, because what is in our hearts shows up in the things we say. If our hearts are dirty, we will say dirty things; if our hearts are clean, we will say nice things. Here is a good chance to talk about the blood of Jesus cleansing our hearts, that they should be made clean on the inside. It is only when Jesus comes into our hearts and lives there that we will be able to do and say things that are good.
You might try to use James 3:6, to explain that James does not mean that the tongue is a fire, but that it is like a fire, because of how much damage we can do with it. We must not let the devil put into our hearts to say things that are damaging, but helpful.
With this background in mind, we can make those verses understandable to the children:
Proverbs 10:31 speaks of the "fruit" that comes from our hearts; that is, the words we speak. Wise words come from the mouth of the one whose heart has been made clean by Jesus, but the words spoken by the one whose heart is full of sin are so bad that they will do a lot of harm, and will not be able to do anything good.
Proverbs 15:4 again shows the importance of speaking good words. When something is happening that is bad or disagreeable, we can speak words that make things better. This likens our words to a tree that bears good fruit. But if we say things that only make things worse, it only makes people who are already sad or crying feel even worse.
Proverbs 18:21 tells us how many good things and how many bad things we can do with the words we speak. Those who love to do a lot of talking must be careful that they say only good things. If they say good things, they will have happy things happen to them, but if they are always saying bad things, they will have unhappy things happen to them
Proverbs 25:15 and 23, along with Proverbs 12:18, and Proverbs 26:26 are similar in their application; that to speak good words we must have a changed heart, and good words are like good fruit from a good tree. Good fruit tastes good, and good words make people feel happy and contented.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. God bless you as you teach these dear children.