Sweet to the soul and healthy to the bones

Sally - honey

I have always loved words, perhaps that is why I love to read and write. Somewhere in my head are memories of hundreds of wonderful words spoken to me by others, memories of words I’ve heard or read. I hold words close to my heart and repeat them over and over. When words are lovely and encouraging, remembering them is precious. Yet, as many times as I’ve been inspired, encouraged and admonished by words, I’ve also been wounded by words spoken carelessly (haven’t we all?). Even with our best efforts, we may remember careless words and struggle to keep bitterness from growing from the seeds of ugly words.

Isn’t it strange how a thousand beautiful words from wonderful people can be seemingly erased by a few hurtful words from a near-stranger?  In the midst of being deeply hurt by ill-informed words of a stranger, it occurred to me that I did not have it in my power to change others’ words, but I had it in my power (with God on my side) to control my own words, to use my words wisely, to remember to have the law of kindness on my tongue. Sometimes we use our words most unwisely with the ones we love them most. Our spouses and children are often the recipients of our uninhibited speech, our reactions (mostly over-reactions), our badly chosen responses — all accompanied by unkind words spoken in ugly tones. No matter how we validate our venting unkindness, it is ungodly — plain and simple!

It was after realizing how much power words had to do good or evil, that I began to make it a top priority to season my words, control my tongue, and encourage others to speak with love and kindness. It doesn’t end with word choice, either. So much is in tone. While it is difficult to illustrate with the written word, it is absolutely true that the same sentence can be uttered in a kind tone, a questioning tone, or a sarcastic tone. Kind words can be enveloped in poisonous tones that pierce the heart. Often when attempting not to raise voices, speakers can speak in vehement and angry tones that end up being even more damaging than yelling. “The quietness of his tone italicized the malice of his reply.” (Truman Capote). Consider your speech… your word choice and your tone!

Is the Law of Kindness on Your Tongue?

If you aren’t convinced that words are important, perhaps you don’t understand that you will be judged by the words you speak. Knowing that we are accountable for our words ought to encourage us to think before we speak!

Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

God, our father, is our example in pure speech. It is in His word that we find purity and truth! Having the law of kindness on your tongue never means withholding the truth of God’s words when needed to encourage, admonish or rebuke. Sharing the purity of God’s word, even when it condemns the hearer, is not unkind speech! God’s word is pure always!

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Can you recognize wise speech and foolish speech – is there such a thing as godly speech and ungodly speech? Are you able to discern your thoughts and bridle your tongue?

Dignity is the capacity to hold back on the tongue what never should have been in the mind in the first place. ~ unknown

A soft answer turns away wrath and disperses knowledge… a soft answer has the power to diffuse emotional upheaval and share wisdom.

Proverbs 15:1-7 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.

Kind speech encourages others and blesses both the speaker and the hearer. Yet, if a wholesome tongue is a TREE OF LIFE, what about a tongue that is not wholesome? Once uttered words can never be erased. There’s no backspace, no delete, no white out—yet there are rewind and playback in abundance.

The tongue is a weapon, it is likened to a razor! Words cut fast and deep, like a razor with a sharp edge!

Psalm 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

The tongue is like a sharp sword, words have the power to pierce the soul!

Psalm 57:4 My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

The tongue is a fire – words spread out of control and damage without care. The tongue is poison – careless words once tasted can cause great harm!

James 3:5-8 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Words are like drawn swords – the speaker appears calm and speaks softly, but is ready for war with weapon in hand!

Psalm 55:21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.

Bitter words are like arrows – they are aimed and designed to penetrate deeply!

Psalms 64:3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:

Sharp tongues are deadly – they are like a poisonous viper, ready to strike and kill.

Psalm 140:3 They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah

As the previous scriptures illustrate, the tongue is a deadly weapon. How do you use your tongue? Are you armed and ready to wound those around you? In order to control our speech, we must learn to tame our tongues. We must bridle our tongues and PUT OFF unkind speech.

Ten ways to manifest kindness (adapted from The Art of Living)

  •       Courteous Words instead of sharp retorts.
  •       Smiles instead of blank looks.
  •       Enthusiasm instead of dullness.
  •       Response instead of indifference.
  •       Warmth instead of coldness.
  •       Understanding instead of the closed mind.
  •       Attention instead of neglect.
  •       Patience instead of irritation.
  •       Sincerity instead of sham.
  •       Consideration instead of annoyance.

Acknowledge that evil speaking is ungodly and say, “NO” to the temptation to speak in ungodly ways. In order for this to be successful, you must put on kindness! Consider your ways and bridle your tongue so that you do not sin with your words!

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Psalm 39:1 To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David. I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

It is absolutely within our power to tame our tongues. A man who bridles his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Do you love life? Tame your tongue! Speak without guile!

1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.

Season your words with grace and PUT ON pleasant speech! Understand that, while your words are directed at others, God is always the hearer. Do not be swallowed up in foolish words and the mad talk of fools.

Colossians 4:5- Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Psalm 19:4 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ecclesiastes 10:12-13 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

When you speak, let godliness flow forth in wisdom and kindness.

Proverbs 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Proverbs 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

Proverbs 10:31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh forwardness.

Give the beautiful gift of saying the right thing at the right time. Share joy with your words!

Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver

Do you believe that godly speech is a precious commodity? Your words can be like precious metal or like sustenance—sweet to the soul and healthy to the bones… let your speech be a blessing to others! Let your words glorify God as you speak righteousness and truth!

Proverbs 10:20-21 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are words of pleasantness.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 12:13-18 The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble. A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Consider the words of men as they speak about the power of words. If even ungodly men (unbelievers) recognize the power of words, how much more ought to followers of Christ learn to season their speech and use words with caution!!

  • All the beauty, all the joy, all the love that man has known, all his kindness, all his yearnings, all his dreams for better things; his passionate desire for peace and an anchorage within a universe that has filled him with fear and mystery and adoration; his daily round of toil and commonplaces; his assumption of things as they are; his lofty and sublime contemplations, his gorgeous imageries; his valor, his dogged will, his patience in long suffering, his ecstasies, his sacrifices small and great—even to the casting aside of his life for a thought, a compassion, an ambition—all these are bound up in words; hence, words are dangerous when let loose. They may mean man’s destruction. They may signify a way out of the dark. For light is a word, Courage is a word and Vision is another. Therefore it is wise to use words with caution. Their content is so complex and explosive and in combinations, they may work beautiful or dreadful things. ~ Louis Sullivan
  • If you think that praise is due him, now’s the time to slip it to him, for he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead. ~ Berton Braley
  • All feelings have their peculiar tone of voice, gestures and looks, and this harmony, as it is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, makes people agreeable or disagreeable.~ François de la Rochefoucauld
  • Words are charged with everlasting power. The radiant words of the Sermon on the Mount light the spirits of each generation. The axioms of the great inspire men to “rise on to steppingstones of their dead selves to higher things.” Simple words expressing courage, faith and love have immortal significance in the lives of millions.
  • Your example, your words, your ideas, your ideals can also be projected into the future to live forever in the lives of others…
  • We give of ourselves when we give the gift of words: encouragement, inspiration, guidance… ~ The Art of Living

 

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