Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Are our words kind?
I intentionally try to live with a mouth that says kind words that are “sweet to the soul and healthy to the body.” Unkind words are defined today as negative words that are spoken indiscriminately, stem from a hard heart, or false in any way. God tells us kind words are good, like honey. I wonder if speaking kind words even refers to our own souls and bodies, not just those of the recipients. I think we all feel better when we look in the mirror at the end of the day and have treated people well! Don’t we sleep better when our minds aren’t cluttered with the memories of regret caused by ugly words spoken in haste?
What if our thoughts and emotions are not kind?
What if we don’t have kind thoughts or emotions toward a person in the moment? Perhaps we haven’t had an opportunity to process the relationship or forgive with intention. Then what? I think we still say kind words by faith. Because what is our goal? Ultimately, we want to reflect Christ — to love and maintain relationships. The key would be to take those honest unkind emotions and thoughts to God in prayer quickly and to work them out privately — doing the “heart work” that is hard work! We need to do forgiveness and processing work with God in prayer first, and then perhaps continue the leftover work in the safety of healthy relationships with a close friend or counselor.
What if we aren’t doing the heart work?
What if our thoughts and emotions about a person are unkind and we have no intention of doing the heart work? If our hearts are hardened, but we say kind words to the person when we are face-to-face, does that count? I think saying kind words with a hard heart does count for relationship reasons. Better to “fake” kindness than to be unkind. BUT (big but), before God, our fake kind words mean nothing. Living with a hard heart that says fake kind words makes us a hypocrite or liar.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. (Matthew 23:27)
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Proverbs 12:22)
What if the person doesn’t know?
What if we are bad-mouthing a person from a hard heart and they don’t know? It feels so good to vent to friends and family! After all, the other person doesn’t hear.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
Some may disagree with me on this, but I think we can dishonor people even when they don’t know what we said. Our words and emotions reflect the reality of our hearts. We must deal with that. In my mind, it doesn’t matter if the person I am speaking about isn’t hearing my unkind words because I am hearing them, as well as those within earshot.
What if I have a legitimate problem with a person?
I spoke with someone this week about some relationship pain. The person I shared the situation with did not know the people. My sharing was not haphazard or venomous, nor untrue or unfair. My heart was to share the realities of my relational pain as I continue to heal from some wounds. Though some negative words were spoken, none were unkind. The words were true and responsible, processing a circumstance with the aim to heal. Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — both are detestable to the Lord. (Proverbs 17:15)
What if our thoughts and emotions are uncontrollable?
Some very, very awful things can happen to people that cause initial emotions that are overwhelmingly intense. Examples of unkind words that might be spoken to a person in intense pain include words spoken toward a spouse when infidelity is first discovered. I think there is a wild-sized arena of grace available to cover the initial, crazy words that can come from our mouths when our human bodies are first shocked. Let it out.
What I caution myself and others to do, however, is to make sure God gets those wild and crazy words and emotions sooner than later. Some healing comes from mere expression and counseling alone, but full healing can only come from God being invited in to heal. As well, our friends can handle unfiltered expression here and there, but our friends and family are not built to handle constant, repetitive unfiltered expression of unkind words about others. We can make others the recipients of the bitterness that takes root in our hearts about someone else.
We have so much power!
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21). We will eat the fruit of how we speak to others in the quality of our relationships. We have in our power the ability to ruin the afternoon for someone today, someone who just wants to have a good Sunday. We can choose to spew unkind words into the air and ears around us, or to be kind. Let’s pick kind words like honey.
This is impossible!
The Bible says it is impossible to tame our tongues. …but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. (James 3:8-9) The bar for our words is high. The bar is holy! None of us are going to get all our words right this side of heaven, but we can improve as we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to clean our hearts and have that reflected in our words.
Speaking of honey
I have been using honey frequently because this is my current favorite breakfast.
1. Slice of healthy toast (Dave’s Killer Bread thin-sliced)
2. Smear with whipped cream cheese
3. Sprinkle with lemon zest (I skip this regularly. Depends on the day.)
4. Cover with sliced strawberries.
5. Drizzle with honey.
Picture Explanation: Our year so far has been difficult for the man of the house. I am happy to report that our family gave their father a good day filled with relaxation and good food! He needed it and deserved it.
Speaking of maintaining a clean heart: If you are interested in
being contacted to participate in a One Gritty Blink Bible study, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and contact me by email so I can place you on a list to be contacted as online and face-to-face studies are planned. Let’s not just focus on things in this short life, but also what counts for eternity!
Note: No part of my posts are derived from A.I. Thoughts and writing stem from my mind and heart as I process life week-by-week and continue to grow in my understanding of God and how to apply His wisdom to the world around me.
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