She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
The teaching of kindness can happen as much by what a woman doesn’t say as by what she does. For a woman who opens her mouth with wisdom does so because her heart and mind are filled with “reverent awe toward the Lord” (Prov. 9:10). She intentionally filters the words that flow from her mouth through a grid of, “Does this help my hearer to revere the Lord?” And it follows that the woman who chooses sometimes not to open her mouth, because wisdom would dictate such, magnifies the Lord.
I’m not very good at that. I open my mouth in careless ways far too often. But I’ve had the honor of knowing (and being influenced by) women who exemplify wise kindness both through intentional words, and through an intentional lack of words:
- Boastless kindness: I think of a friend whose children excelled at all things academic, yet she’d not brag or speak of their newest achievement in even the slightest way, knowing she was possibly in the company of moms whose kids didn’t excel, but struggled. She could have dropped a hint here or there about a child’s most recent accomplishment, boosting her I’m-a-really-good-mom self-esteem. But she feared the Lord more than she desired mothering acclaim. Reverence for God and his ways led her to care for the hearts of other moms more than the power or approval she could have gathered for herself. I learned much from spending time with her: I’d often hear later (from someone else) that her child had again succeeded, and I’d realize she’d wanted glory for God, not for herself. The teaching of kindness was on her quieted tongue.
- Attention-giving kindness: I think of another friend who always gave my young children special care in conversation. She’d ask them questions and listen intently, as if their answers were the most important in the world. She’d kneel down, eye-level with them, and fully enter into their stories. I know my kids would say the teaching of kindness was on her tongue.
- Exhorting kindness: I think of a friend who encouraged me more than anyone when I was a new Christian, yet also loved me enough to kindly rebuke me when necessary. Wisdom and kindness call for love that exhorts when professing Christ-followers speak in ways (gossip, slander, complaining, crassness) that do not honor the Lord.
I want to be like them. I want to intentionally, moment-by-moment speak in ways that honor God. I want to put you first: not boasting in order to build myself up; not demanding attention, but giving it; always speaking words that would guide you into truth. I want the teaching of kindness to be on my tongue, and wisdom and edification to flow from my lips (Eph. 4:29). I want my words to be good and helpful and Christ-centered. I want to breathe words of life, words of grace.
Do you remember a viral post a while back that proclaimed that girls should grow up to breathe fire? I, too, want to raise strong daughters who stand firmly and confidently for God’s way (I think that’s what the post-writer ultimately wanted to say). But I don’t want daughters who breathe flames. I want my daughters to breathe with a more powerful weapon than fire. I want them to experience the teaching of kindness, and grow in wisdom, and as a result, I want them to be women who open their mouth (or choose quietness in particular moments) with wise words, who teach kindness with their tongue, because they’re in awe of and revere and rest in God. I want my daughters (and my son) to know and fear the Lord, and to rest with confidence in His goodness, so that words of wisdom and kindness, learned from Him, flow out to others all around them.
I want my children to breathe grace.
(More posts on speaking God’s way: Does it really matter how I talk? (part 1), Does it really matter how I talk? (part 2), Does it really matter how I talk? (part 3), Most days, what do we talk about?)
Painting: Poppies, Claude Monet, 1873