By Dannah Gresh
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness breaks the spirit!”
Sadly, I have learned this first hand.
Many years ago, Bob and I attended a week-long marriage retreat where we got some one-on-one time with a counselor. He claimed to be a Christian and I think he probably was, but I’m not sure he knew his Bible very well.
When I shared some frustration in my marriage in our counseling session, he suggested that I had repressed anger and that I needed to find some healthy ways to communicate better with my husband. Something Bob Gresh has always welcomed whether I have good things or bad things to say!
Then the counselor asked me how often I cussed at Bob. The answer was never! Then, he wanted to know if I ever just “let it rip” to express my anger. The answer wasn’t, but it was seldom. This, the man assured me, was the problem!
That was NOT true… and it was not good biblical advice.
Well, this man said he could help me tap into my true feelings. He said we could start with just one word. It was not only profane—here’s the bigger problem—it was not TRUTH.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but I gave it a try. “It’s just a word,” I reasoned on my way home. “And it’s not the worst of all the bad words! Maybe I am repressed! What if I’m repressed!”
Behind closed doors where no one but my husband heard the ugly, harsh, spew, I did what the counselor suggested. I let it rip!
How I regret it! My heart breaks to think what lies and wounds I planted in my sweet, good, image-bearing husband in those few short weeks of my unbridled, ugly, harsh, words!
A week or so later, I was driving down the road, and a driver cut me off. And in that instant, I blurted out that word at the other driver. That’s when I knew I had a problem.
On the drive home, I asked the Lord to forgive me and to help me. I knew I’d lost control of my mouth. It had become harsh, ugly, and vicious! While it is true that God will use your words if you let Him. It seems it is also true that Satan will use them . . . if you let him.
Today we’re going to examine God’s Word in an effort to see if our own style of communication lines up with the Truth of the Scripture. We’re getting to the fun part of Proverbs 15:1-4. Let’s review what we’ve done so far. In the first blog post of our series on Proverbs 15, we explored the power of a gentle word.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
When we choose to have a self-controlled response in the face of conflict and frustration, it quiets the rage and angst in both our own hearts and the person we’re communicating with.
In the last blog post in this series, we learned about the wisdom of a gentle answer.
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
Well, those two things may have stepped on your toes and convicted you, but can be difficult to apply. I’m so glad you’re still with me because now we get to explore what I’m calling the reward of a gentle answer. There are actually two of them in Proverbs 15:3-4! let’s read verse three to see the first reward…
REWARD #1—God sees!
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
He sees what we’re doing. That includes observing our interactions with others.
This is either really good news for you—a reward in the best sense of the word! Or really bad news—which could mean punishment or some discipline is in order. Either way, you’ll reap what you sow.
If the style of your communication is largely unkind, reactive, and hurtful, then the idea that God hears every word you speak should bring a sense of conviction. Whether in public or private, He sees and hears it all! And he will judge accordingly.
I want to just take a moment to say: God will also judge those who speak unkindly to you, including your husband. God will judge a man who does not speak to his wife with kind, gentle, soft, life-giving language. If your husband is verbally abusive to you, please don’t give in to the temptation to retaliate with ugly, hateful language.
If you do, it will only make you—and him—angrier. If you keep giving into anger and it becomes a pattern, it could result in you becoming foolish like him.
But friend, let me also tell you this: you do not have to be abused and treated badly. Tell someone. Get help. It’s OK to remove yourself from a situation that’s abusive. God does not want that for you. And He will eventually have something to say to a man who has treated his wife harshly or abusively.
THE GOOD NEWS
This brings me to the good news in this verse!
When the style and tone of your communication are generally gentle and soft and wise….there is a good reward!
Listen to what Scripture says in 2 Chronicles chapter 16:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”
God sees and he’s looking not only to judge those who use their tongue unwisely but to give STRONG SUPPORT—Not just any support, the STRONG kind!—to those who use their mouths with wisdom and gentleness!
God sees! The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. He sees how you are reacting and speaking. That should fill your heart with great comfort.
Reward #1---God is watching...and he will be your constant support if he finds a blameless heart out of which springs soft, gentle words marked with wisdom.
REWARD #2—God will use your words
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, perverse words break the spirit.”
When you speak gentle, healing words, it’s like offering someone fruit from a tree that’s full of life! But PERVERSE language does nothing but crush, break and destroy hearts.
Every person is an image-bearer and a masterpiece created by Him. To speak otherwise is a terrible lie! It is a perversion of truth to use language like that. Let me remind you: your words have power!
When you use perverse words…
You’re planting pain whether you realize it or not.
Into your friends.
Into your family.
Into your world.
Just as Proverbs 15 promises—perverse words break the spirit. And there are a lot of broken spirits in this messed up world today.
But there’s good news here too. A good reward: a gentle tongue is a tree of life!
THE GOOD REWARD: We get to see God use our tongues to bring life!
Let’s be women who choose gentle words tempered by wisdom, so that God can be the one to make use of them.
Words have power and we must use them with wisdom! The reward of using them well is that we cooperate with Christ and bring life as He did.
Now if this is all feeling a little too difficult, read John 6:63!
It is the Spirit who gives life!
Rest easy, friend, if this seems hard it’s because it should be! We need God’s Spirit to help us!
When you look at your life, what do you see?
Do you see the destruction of harsh language in your family and friends? Or do you have a front-row seat to watch soft, wholesome speech bring forth life?
God sees what you’re seeing. And he probably sees it more clearly. This is why he warns us that a tongue that is perverse does not reflect the truth of a person or situation. That kind of tongue breaks spirits!
But, here’s what I hope you’ll press into:
A gentle tongue is a tree of life.
Our True Girl theme verse:
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
Mom, the best way to teach your daughter to live like an authentic True Girl is to live like an authentic True Woman. And to do that, you've got to get your life lined up with the Truth of the Bible. Listen to Dannah Gresh every weekday on Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's Revive Our Hearts podcast. The program features biblical teaching, interviews that offer godly advice, and other opportunities to abide in God's Word.