When She Speaks
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper
“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” - Proverbs 31:26, NLT
I don’t know about you, but at our house, bedtime seems to be the time my kiddos are open to sharing about their days. Most likely because they want to stay up just a few minutes more, but I can’t help thinking there is something about laying there in the stillness of the night that allows their little hearts and minds to feel safe enough to unload, and I try to soak up every second. A few nights ago, my son was telling me about a friend who says mean things sometimes. He then said, “Yeah, I’ve just learned to close my mouth.” And it made me think about something I read recently.
Many of us are familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman. She is described as someone we all long to be on the homefront and on the workfront, an exemplary wife, mom, friend... she has it all and does it all well. Verse 25 is one of the most well-known descriptions of her: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
But the sentence directly after has stayed with me. Some versions simply say, “She speaks…” But the NLT says, “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” And that one little word, when, changes everything.
Here are three things we can learn from this special woman about when, how, and why to speak to those around us.
1. We Don’t Always Have to Speak
Man, anyone else feel a little nudge on this one? I sure do because I am a talker. But the truth is that we don’t always have to speak, y’all. There are many times we shouldn’t say anything at all. Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there is “a time to be quiet and a time to speak.” But how do we know the difference?
There are times I want to respond when I know I shouldn’t. And there are times I would absolutely like to stay silent, but I feel the Lord nudging me to speak up. The answer is that we have to pray and ask the Lord for discernment. The Bible is very clear about the influence of the tongue as Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” Pause before you speak. Take a minute...or a day...before you give an answer. And ask the Lord if you should speak and how you should respond for different situations.
2. Before We Speak, We Need to Ask for Wisdom
Wisdom is defined as “the soundness of an action or decision...” I don’t know about you, but I rarely whip out unbelievably solid, helpful, well-thought-out answers or advice on a whim. My words, when spoken through my power and thoughts alone, come out sounding nice at best and hurtful at worst. Knowing that, when Proverbs 31:26 tells us that this woman’s words were wise, I have to assume she spent time with the Lord before she spoke.
And y’all, if we go to the Lord each morning and pray for wisdom in our word choice, ask for His perfect timing, and ask to speak in His strength and power alone, conversations may turn out very differently. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Wow...that is what I want my words to be full of. I want them to speak life, and if you are reading this I know you do too. Let’s ask for wisdom from heaven that only He can give.
3. Our Words Should Instruct Others with Kindness
Ok, so this has two really big things. When we speak, we should instruct others with kindness. Two very loaded words! Instruct means “to direct or command someone to do something” or “teach someone a subject or skill.” And kindness means “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” I would add that kindness involves giving grace in many instances.
But y’all, if you were to be a fly on the wall in my house on many days, chances are that you would hear more complaining and fussing than instructing. So how do we move from grudgingly telling our kids what to do to instructing with kindness? We watch what we put in our hearts and minds. Luke 6:45 says, “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Convicting, right? But the truth is that everything we take in goes into our hearts and will eventually come out of our mouths. We have to surround ourselves with friends who lift us up, speak truth into our lives, and hold us accountable.
At the end of the day, our words are the most powerful possession we have, y’all. I pray we will guard them and pray over them and use them to speak life like this special lady in Proverbs 31.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” - Proverbs 4:23
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