The Kneaded Tongue is Needed

“A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly…
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit…
The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
    not so the hearts of fools…
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention…
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
    and a word in season, how good it is!..
The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
    but gracious words are pure…
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
    but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things…
The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
    and good news refreshes the bones…
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor.”

“The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness…
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
    and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body…
A worthless man plots evil,
    and his speech is like a scorching fire.
A dishonest man spreads strife,
    and a whisperer separates close friends...
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 15:1-2,4,7,18,23,26,28,30,33; 16:21,23-24,27-28,32

The tongue is indeed a petulant master when not bridled. Fiery and impetuous it burns, callous and harsh it inflicts pain. Yet, like dough kneaded to tenderize and make pliable, when softened under the Lord’s influence the tongue can bring healing, light, and love. (James 3:2-10)

Consider the heart from which words flow: with what have I filled mine? Biblical truth or pop mantras? Prayed-through discernment or opinions of others? Resentment at being wronged, held back, or shamed, or thankfulness at God’s faithfulness and redeeming purposes? Criticism, or the best thoughts about people? Complaining or gratitude? Anger within can spout off in ugliness and cursing, while a forgiven, joy-filled heart pours forth lofty words and healing waters. (Luke 6:45)

Which will it be for us? What needs naming, confessing, and cleansing? What impulse will I replace with intentional kindness, what cutting or annoyed response with a gentle answer, what bitter fruit with sweetness?

The world needs truth spoken in love and kindness, encouragement that is substantial. Lonely ones and loved ones yearn for blessing and affirmation. Am I using my tongue to castigate or console? To criticize or commend? How willing and ready am I to hold my tongue when necessary, and speak truth in love to upbuild the Body? (Ephesians 4:15-16)

“Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.” ~Frances Havergal (1874)

Father, knead my tongue to remove every pollutant and be soft with truth, that I might freely, lovingly offer Your life and rightly sing Your praise.

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