Church

The Law of Kindness, Part 4

We’ve been examining positive uses of the tongue. We have discovered that our words have power; we need to use them purposefully and carefully.

With our tongue, we can minister healing and edification. With that same tongue we can minister hurt and tearing down. “My brethren, this ought not to be so.” Let’s embrace James’ exhortation. Let’s look to God to help us use our tongues solely for blessing!

The following scriptures remind us of the kind of words we should be choosing.

    Ephesians 4.29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” NIV
    NKJV puts it this way: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

I love that verse! I know that it is a challenging reminder, one that I cannot attain in my own strength. It could become an overwhelming, frustrating burden, save for the wonderful promise tucked within. Did you see that last phrase? Did you notice the implication of positive power we can impart into people’s lives? You and I — simple people like us — can choose words that benefit others, that “impart grace”!

Ever since I realized the potential of my words to actually impart grace (“…that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness; the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues…”) I have experienced a highly increased care and joy regarding my words. How wonderful that I can, by careful and purposeful choosing, impart grace to my family, friends, and neighbors — why, even a stranger might be a partaker of grace through the words I choose to say! How wonderful! What an amazing privilege!

    Proverbs 10.11 “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” NRSV

Do my words bring forth life or death? It is a simple enough question, one that is not hard to discern. We just need to be asking ourselves regularly, “Is this ministering life to this person?”

    Proverbs 12.18 “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.” GNT
    Or this translation of that verse: “Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” NRSV

    Proverbs 16.24 “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” NKJV

Do my words promote health or do they damage? A pleasant word to a hurting soul can restore faith and bring light. They can heal. How amazing to think we can wield such power!

    Job 16.4,5 “I also could speak as you do, If your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, And shake my head at you; But I would strengthen you with my mouth, And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.”

When I first discovered this passage, I was arrested; I was stopped dead in my tracks.

We are all familiar with the story of Job. (To put it simply, he was a faithful man before God who experienced devastation from the enemy’s hand against him. His friends came to mourn his great losses with him, but actually brought words of accusation, assuming Job’s own sin and error had brought this upon himself. In the end, Job clung to faith in God and God showed His great faithfulness to His servant Job. But his friends were far from encouraging.) It is the old “kick a man when he’s down” syndrome.

I’m afraid we are all prone to doing such things from time to time, especially if the “I told you so” comment is applicable. But don’t go there. Instead, be like Job who said, “But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.” Don’t be tempted to get your licks in while you can, to muster revenge against someone while he’s weak, to kick a good man when he’s down. Choose rather to strengthen and comfort those who are downtrodden and broken, to bolster their faith in God, and to bring relief in their time of grief.

We are not helpless when encountering brokenness and death. The tongue is a small but powerful member; by it He has entrusted to us the wonderful ministry of healing and edification. We do not need to stand by as though impotent, destitute, and defenseless. Instead we have been equipped to actively bring restoration and encouragement. And that is good news, my friend, good news!

Discussion

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  1. I really appreciate this series of posts. I’ve been following along and I have to say that I feel pretty convicted! I am grateful – this is not a topic I’ve heard (read) much on and it’s great to see it put so plainly. I feel like I can apply this to my everyday life . So thank you :)

    Posted by Rissa | May 30, 2008, 8:31 am
  2. I was just wondering if any one has ever had the following happen to them.I over heard a conversation between a mother and her son today,which at the time seemed like a small thing that she was saying to him, but later on after I got home the thing she said to him kept going through my mind and I ended up crying my heart out for the son.I could not understand why this hurt me so much. Still am not sure as to why unless Iam more sesitive to words that are spoken since we have been on this subject.I guess thats a good thing.I hope I stay that way,and maybe the next time something like that happens God will show me what my part might be in their conversation.

    Posted by Sue Henry | June 2, 2008, 3:50 pm
  3. @Sue – I really grieve when I overhear so many careless and hurtful things said from parent to child out in public. I struggled with my Christian response, feeling like I should somehow let my light shine in that darkness. I usually smile very lovingly to the child, and at least say to the Mom what a nice, or cute, or pretty hair, etc. child he is, maybe if she’s still standing and hasn’t walked off, how children can be trying, but what a gift from God they are.
    If I’ve got a second or two more, I reenforce what the Holy Spirit gives me to encourage and try and make her feel the joy and privilege of the job. They’re often not aware of it by the climate at home!

    Posted by diane romlein | June 7, 2008, 10:19 am