A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Seek a gentle tongue, which is another way of saying seek a gentle spirit. Seek a tongue/spirit that is a tree of life to the broken, the downtrodden, the person weighed down in suffering and/or in guilt.
And this is the case of more people than you realize. It is often the case of the person who is acting arrogant, who may be on your case. People act out their tensions, often shifting those tensions on to others. A “soft answer turns away wrath” because its gentleness unarms the attacker. He wants a fight; instead he gets love; he gets a caring voice, and that alone can breathe life back into him. The heavy heart may express itself in poor work. More effective than the demanding tongue is the gentle tongue whose show of concern re-energizes the downcast worker.
The truth is that the gentle tongue is often more powerful than the harsh tongue in motivating better work. That, again, is due to wisdom. For the gentle tongue is not to be equated with merely being mild-mannered. It is the tongue that is under control of a wise mind and heart, which discern what is needed by the other person. The gentle tongue is possessed by one of sound mind and heart.
The perverse tongue breaks the spirit of others because it is out of control and is coming out of a person whose mind and spirit are not sound. Such a tongue wreaks havoc on both the recipient and the speaker. For it stirs up anger, pain, defensiveness, and other unsound effects in the recipient, and it hardens the anger, pain, and other unsound elements in the speaker.
Pray for the Lord to guide your tongue today, that you may speak with a gentle tongue and promote healing and life. Don’t miss the opportunities to speak words that express the gospel or flow out of the gospel, so that others may be drawn to it.
© 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org