By Dannah Gresh
A few weeks ago, I was investing time into the hearts of my darling twin grandbabies. Zoe and Addie are two now! Of course, you know that two-year-olds can be known to be “terrible!” Of course, not my grandbabies! 😍 But “some” experience what we call the “terrible twos!” They are “known” for it.
So on that day, I watched as Zoe approached Addie and violently, for a toddler anyway, ripped a toy out of Addie’s hands. Zoe walked away examining it in absolute wonder and amazement, completely oblivious to her own selfish act.
Now, I want you to picture this: At first, Addie just stood there, momentarily astounded at the atrocity that had just occurred, but...it actually looked as if she were thinking, truly considering, what to do. Suddenly, she walked purposefully over to Zoe leaned down to get between Zoe’s face and the toy…. she looked up into Zoe’s eyes!
Softly and sweetly, Addie said, “ZoZo, share, Zozo…Share…Share…(and then just a tad more firmly)...SHARE, Zozo!”
In that endearing moment, I could hear their mom’s voice in every word Addie spoke!
Aleigha has obviously been teaching them toddler conflict resolution skills! And her training manual seems to include softness and gentleness. And the word, SHARE! Upon that last “SHARE, Zozo!”, Zoe plopped the toy back into Addie’s arms and contentedly swaggered away to find another.
Now, Addie and Zoe are not perfect. They do have their typical toddler moments, but in our little circle of care-takers, grandparents, great-grands, aunties, and uncles, we’ve all been observing and comparing notes. Addie and Zoe are “known” to be remarkably peaceful toddlers. They already have a reputation at the age of two!
This reminds me of Proverbs 20:11,
“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”
What a profound truth to consider as adults!
The actions we take build up or break down our own reputation, and that includes the manner in which we respond to conflict. I’ve discovered an awesome conflict communication training manual for teams, marriages, families...and individuals. It’s four simple verses in Proverbs 15. Within it are several parallels or comparisons that serve as a sort of a self-assessment quiz helping us examine our reactions to others. In fact, grab your Bible or your phone and find Proverbs 15. I’d love to show this to you. But before I do, let me ask:
What are you known for? Soft and gentle responses? Or harsh words that stir up anger?
Along with the Book of Job, the psalms, and a couple of other books in the Bible, Proverbs is known as “Wisdom Literature”
Today we’re diving into the first four verses of Proverbs 15 to learn what God’s Word says about the wisdom of a gentle word.
What is wisdom literature? You may ask... Wisdom literature is divinely inspired insight collected from God’s people that teaches us how to live in a way that honors God and others. It’s written to help us know how to live well in God’s world!
The main idea that wisdom literature addresses are this: fear God, or honor God, and submit to Him in every action you take and word that you speak! When it comes to our words, fearing God is letting him have the final say in everything you say!
Proverbs 1:7 says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The fear of God- that is to say, respect, honor, and submission to God, is where all of our wisdom for practical living begins. Of course, “fearing God” is a pretty big task, so the rest of the wise, memorable sayings in this book kind of break that down for us, making the book of Proverbs very practical.
Now, let’s jump into our focus text and look at the wisdom of a gentle answer:
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
Here we see a common characteristic found in many proverbs: parallelism. This happens when the author contrasts two opposing realities. These are realities that cannot co-exist. You either operate this way OR the other. No middle ground!
- You’ll speak with wisdom and make knowledge understandable and attractive, OR
- You’ll speak like a fool and pour out folly!
The choice to speak with gentleness is the mark of a wise individual. A wise person is disciplined, not impulsive but prone to self-examination and self-control. This leads to clear thinking and good actions. Those actions are what make a woman’s wisdom obvious.
But let’s look closely to see a hidden treasure in the words: “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge”. I found this so interesting. Follow this trail with me. “Commends” means to praise...a wise tongue praises knowledge. Perhaps, too, the tongue of that person is commendable, worthy of praise. That’s what we see at the surface, but in the Hebrew language, the word used here was one used when describing an excellent musician.
Isaiah 23:16---uses it to describe a person who can“strike the harp well.” Ezekiel 33:32--- uses it to refer to a musician who can “play skillfully.” So this verse is describing someone that uses the instrument of their tongue like a master musician! I love that! Ya know what that makes me think of?
Addie and Zoe!!!
And not just because NanaDannah cannot stop thinking about those squeezeables! But because they’re PRACTICING! No musician becomes commendable overnight! They practice!
Moms, Grandmas...encourage your children to practice their piano but don’t fail to encourage them to practice their gentle, soft words!
And may we practice!
I long ago stopped practicing my piano … I can play chopsticks, but not a lot more than that! I hope to never stop practicing my gentleness.
The little conflicts like who takes out the trash at your house, whether or not your roommate cleans up her dishes, the competition for the best seat at a conference...
They are not little at all! They are practice sessions. They’re opportunities for you and me to prepare us for bigger conflicts.
Are you practicing well? Are you practicing the right kind of heart, response, attitude, actions and words?
Wise women (and wise men) attend God’s school of training to have self-control. (Translation: it doesn’t come naturally!) They practice!
Titus 2:11,12, one of my most-treasured Scriptures, reads:
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…"
Are you being trained by God to speak with gentle and soft words of wisdom? Or are you skipping class?
Do you remember how I could hear Aleigha, my daughter-in-love’s voice when Addie responded with such sweetness to Zoe after a conflict arose between my twin two-year-old granddaughters? Well, that day they honored Aleigha, their mother, and all her hard work in teaching them to be soft and gentle and kind with one another even when there was conflict.
It made me think this: I want to be like that! I want people to hear JESUS's voice in every word I speak…
I want them to SEE his training in my life...even when...no! especially when I am in conflict with someone! I want it to be obvious that He's been training me! And that the course he used included skills in self-control and...softness and gentleness.
May I be...and may you be… a woman who embraces the wisdom of a gentle word.
Would you like a tool that helps your daughter remember to use her words carefully? Maybe something that reminds her every single day that words have power? This month we’re shipping The Kindness Box to all of our True Girl subscribers and it’s brimming with daily Truth about the power of words.
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