Spiritual Snack Food: Speak Gently
by Sharon Betters
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,
but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
I found an old journal with this entry:
Proverbs 15 – shares so much about words and the power of words for good or evil. Lord, change my heart so my words heal rather than crush; bring wisdom rather than foolishness; speak truth softly with the gentle kiss of a butterfly rather than shatter like a sledgehammer; consult others for wisdom rather than pridefully refuse counsel; listen humbly to life giving rebukes rather than pridefully declaring my own righteousness; slowly respond after careful, thoughtful listening rather than focusing only on my own way; speak with firm gentleness to an angry person rather than responding with harsh words that stir up more rage; withhold judgement until hearing all sides of a story rather than jumping to hurtful conclusions; share truth that builds bridges rather than half-truths that create walls....
The crisis, chaos or conflict that spurred these thoughts - I wish I could remember, but perhaps it's best not to. Perhaps the circumstances don't matter today. Just the truth of God's Word, spurring me on to remember: Listen carefully. Listen with a discerning heart. Hear beyond the presentation. Speak gently. Speak compassionately. Speak truth fearlessly but with merciful justice when necessary. Speak God's truth. When unable to reflect the heart of Jesus, be silent. Where words are many, sin is not absent.
Let’s tuck away these nuggets from Proverbs 15 as a spiritual snack food that can renew our energy when we are weary in choosing to speak gently, even if our words must be hard.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (v. 1)
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (v. 2)
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (v. 4)
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. (v. 7)
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. (v. 8)
A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise. (v. 12)
The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. (v. 14)
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (v. 18)
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (v. 22)
A man finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word! (v. 23)
The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (v. 28)
He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. (v. 31)
He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. (v. 32)
I hope I remember to pull out these spiritual snacks when God presents me with an opportunity to be a channel of compassion to a specific person today.
Originally published in Treasures of Encouragement blog, September 2012
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a non profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children and fourteen grandchildren.
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