Words have power that we all experience but seldom regulate. We live in a generation that thinks, “It’s my RIGHT to say what’s on my mind!” While I agree, I also recognize that not everything on our minds needs to be said. I also believe that having a right to something doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of that something.
The United States holds freedom of speech as a basic tenet of life. Yet, even that has consequences and limitations. In 1919, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic….” In other words, we can say what we wish, but there are consequences, and sometimes those bring horrific responses along with commensurate punishment.
We have many scriptures that apply to our speech. James says the tongue is a flaming fire, filled with wickedness that corrupts the entire body. Today we are looking at Proverbs 16:24 and see such truth and life in it. Pleasant words can lead to healing, help, and joy.
When I read these words this morning, I recalled kind words spoken to me in the past, words that were genuine and beautiful. Those were words that were sweet to my mind and healing to my body and soul. Those words brought me peace and recovery.
Then I recalled “kind” words that were anything but.
There were those of a woman who told the 19-year-old me who was home 24/7 with a newborn that if I wanted to keep my husband (who worked either 8 am to 8 pm or 8 pm to 8 am) happy, I would greet him at the door at the end of his shift with my makeup in place, my hair done, nice clothes on, and a meal prepared for him. I would keep my son from crying and have the house spotless. This woman, as well-meaning as she was, crushed me. I loved my husband, but I was not able to meet those standards, and saw myself as an utter failure.
There were the “kind” words of parents who refused to believe that I didn’t know what that hand sign was. They didn’t believe that I had simply returned the same sign an older boy had showed me. I saw myself as an imbecile and liar — even though I knew I was not.
There were the “kind” words of a husband who said he loved me and called me “my plump little pigeon” as an endearment with his beatific smile. I saw myself as fat and ugly.
All these words and more were spoken pleasantly, yet were filled with condemnation. They were “kind” words with barbs big enough to wound deeply, and wound they did. Wounds that didn’t heal for many years.
When God sent Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel, Samuel looked over all of Jesse’s sons. He saw the tall one, the handsome one, the strong one, all with physical attributes that would fulfill his idea of the best king. God, however, had chosen the youngest, the scrawniest, the least, telling Samuel that He doesn’t look at those physical attributes, but at the heart.
Anytime we utter those “kind” words with barbs or
double meanings, people may only see the
pleasant words or kindness, but God sees the heart.
He knows the corrupt and deceptive nature
of our hearts and thus the words that flow from them.
He knows every time we mask our critical words with kindness.
So, does that mean I’m never to say kind things to people I’m not happy with? Not at all! That means you must get and keep your heart pure and aligned with God so that when you speak kind words, they come from His wellspring of love and kindness rather than your drought-stricken heart that is so easily swayed by the Deceiver who wants to steal, kill, and destroy.
Once we have our hearts aligned with the Father’s,
we will look for opportunities to
speak pleasant, honeycomb words
that nourish souls and bring healing to mind and body.
Speak pleasant words, Believer, making certain that they come from a pure and God-cleansed heart.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.