The Law of Kindness and the Poisoned Tongue

I always loved this scripture from Proverbs 31:26:

“She opens her mouth in skillful and Godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness (giving counsel and instruction).”

Of course James 3:8 portrays the tongue as “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” I think I know where that poison comes from—an arrogant heart fixed on achieving and on distinguishing itself. Where does that grinding desire to be noticed come from?

In my case, I know it comes from a fear of being abandoned and forgotten, a fear of emptiness and nothingness. I have been fighting that fear all these years with my own personal power and initiative, trusting in my own abilities and certain that I can count on no one but myself. It always seems to require some sort of setback, injury or loss for me to realize that not only is God really there in a huge, undeniable way—unwavering, passionate, and eternally present, but that he has surrounded me with people who can be relied upon to care deeply for me and to watch out for me as well. 

So it just stands to reason that trusting in God = laying that aggressive arrogance to rest = greater wisdom, kindness, and peace toward myself = a tongue transformed by the law of kindness. 

That process is worthy of an eternal string of daily commitments! What if I could take that focus and apply it to all my days, for the rest of my life? It was like the anti-initiative, like taking my usual approach and standing it on its head.

The poison must come out from the deep recesses of the heart. He loves us too much to let it fester in there forever. I was bitten by the snakes of pride and fear, and I have been guarding my little reservoir of venom from him. Did I really think he would overlook it and say “good enough, my faithful servant”?

Being sick or hurt or in grief, I realized, was a portal into the heavenly operating room. It was a chance to open my heart to the great surgeon and entrust myself to his hands. Each day since, even the busiest and most frustrating, has been touched by this realization. I’ve heard it said that people can’t change (or they won’t change), but doesn’t each brush with illness or loss or heart-stopping joy change us, after all?

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