Choosing Righteous Words

This morning my girls and I spent some time at the library. As they were playing, I skimmed Proverbs 16. There are so many nuggets of gold in there! But, the pattern that struck my heart this morning was how often the author mentions the power of our words:

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
    and he loves him who speaks what is right.

The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Wow.

I want to be a woman that is known for sweetness of speech, who speaks what is right- even when it is hard, who brings life to someone’s soul and body, who can control her spirit. What a delight it would be to be around a person like that!

I was encouraged and motivated by all of this and as I sat in the beautiful sunlight I asked the Lord to make my words pleasing and righteous.

We had a great time playing. Since I had just been reminded of the power of my words, I was careful when speaking to my girls, trying to be gentle and intentional with what I said to them. The quality time with them was joyful.

As I was putting MK into the van, M insisted that she stand by the doors and wait for me to come get her since it was “too cold.” We had done this several times before so I trusted her to wait. This time was different, however, because as soon as MK’s door was shut, I hear a woman yelling, “Wait, hold on!” as she holds M back from walking into the parking lot. She did not wait. I grabbed M as I apologized to the woman explaining that I was coming to get her and was met with nothing but a disappointed glare.

Because my pride was wounded and I was frustrated over M’s  and my decision making, I disciplined her by talking sternly to her. Now of course, discipline was merited. She did not listen and she could have gotten hurt. But, my words were not life-giving, they were shaming. I was not slow to anger. I did not control my spirit.

The incident raised questions in my heart for me.

It is easy to speak gracious words in times of joy, what about when strife hits?

What about when my pride is damaged?

When I mess up and need to recognize my error?

What about when I am scared?

Doubting?

Hurt by someone closest to me? What does it look like then?

How do I have the ability to change hearts and to change the way my children view discipline when I still speak righteous words and tell them what they need to hear but do it in  a way where I am slow to anger? When I am put in check?

These verses are not conditional. They don’t say “Gracious words are like honeycomb except when your emotions tell you it’s okay to use undesirable words,” or, “He loves a person who speaks righteously but understands when you spew out your feelings.” No. I believe there is a way to speak like this even when it is hard.

I am thankful for this reminder today. A beautiful reminder of the power of words even when it is not easy. A good wrestling match for me to have. I am grateful for grace and that He can and will transform my heart as I seek wisdom with words.

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