She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
Proverbs 31:26 NKJV
We gather around the kitchen counter. Freshly washed little hands emerge themselves fully into the various ingredients in the mixing bowl. In a matter of minutes the separate ingredients will be combined to form a unit; be it bread or muffins. With our senses fully engaged, we follow each step of the recipe. I see my little ones' faces lighting up with pure delight as they measure, pour and mix the ingredients together. They are filled with wonder and expectation. But before we can conclude the mixing part of the dough, I routinely ask them, "What must we never forget in any recipe?" from the littlest one to the eldest, they reply as one man, "Salt!"
You see, countless times I have made the absent-minded mistake to forget the salt in a recipe. Although it usually accounts for the smallest of measurements within most recipes, the absence thereof cannot be missed. It plays an indispensable role within the taste palette of the combination of flavours. Salt brings out the rest of the qualities of the flavours. "It balances sweetness and helps suppress flavours, such as bitterness." It is in essence a flavour enhancer and most of the other flavours cannot be fully appreciated without the presence of salt. So for that very reason, I remind my children every time that we bake that they need to remember to add salt.
I do find it distinctively relevant that our words are instructed to be seasoned with salt. Salt has been used for many centuries to enhance the flavours in food, as a preservative, to draw out impurities, and as an antiseptic to clean wounds. Other lesser known uses of salt throughout history include tanning, dyeing, and bleaching as well as for the production of pottery, soap and chlorine. No wonder Yeshua calls us to be the salt of the earth! It carries tremendous Spiritual significance in a variety of forms.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37 NKJV
Let's unpack this verse a little. These specific words have left quite a bitter taste in my mouth at times, to be honest. Especially after I would carelessly say things; something we all do from time to time. What I have come to realize is that our words don't start within the chambers of our vocal chords, they germinate and grow within the chambers of our hearts. Our hearts are a fountain of life or of death. In the same way our words either bring forth life or death.
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.
Proverbs 18:4 NKJV
Keep your heart with all diligence,
for out of it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23 WMB
Our hearts are called the wellspring of life and our words are referred to as deep waters. Either our speech is filled with bitterness or it is sweet to the hearer.
In Psalm 12 we again see the heart-mouth connection.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
Psalms 12:2 NKJV
We are instructed to guard our mouths, but our Abba instructs us to guard our hearts with all diligence. It all starts there; within our hearts. So when we are dumbfounded in surprise by our own words, we need to trace the steps all the way back to our hearts. There within the deep soil of our beings we cultivate life or death. We keep our hearts as a garden. What do we allow to grow? Fruit-bearing plants or weeds?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 NKJV
How can we possibly guard the garden of our hearts? I have found it hard in many seasons of life. This garden needs good fencing without us putting up such high walls that nothing can enter in.
Maybe David, the man after Yahweh’s own heart, understood something about this heart-issue that literally flows into the words of our mouths. The following words are from various Psalms, and they form a prayer that resonates deeply within my heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Oh Abba, create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me;
try my mind and my heart.
o teach me to number my days,
that I may gain a heart of wisdom.
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
(Psalms 139:23-24, Psalms 51:10, Psalms 119:36, Psalms 26:2, Psalms 90:12, Psalms 119:11)
Now, I know that some of these Psalms were technically written by psalmists other than David, but I do see a golden thread between the Word or Law of Yahweh, our hearts and our words. As we meditate on His word, hiding it in our hearts as a treasure, it purifies our hearts. It cleanses us and we then can have a clean heart before Him. The overflow of a clean heart will always be words that are pleasant like the honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
The connection to honey in these instances also bears great significance. Raw honey specifically has a great many health benefits to it. Some of these benefits include wound healing, treating an upset stomach and relieving cold symptoms such as a cough. It is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. No wonder our pleasant words are compared to this sweet and comforting substance. It is created by hardworking bees, made from the flowers of various plants that will produce some kind of fruit. The whole picture of bees, nectar and honey forms a beautiful picture of how pleasant our words can be. A meadow filled with wildflowers dancing in the breeze of the early morning. Birds are chirping and bees are happily buzzing about, doing their very important task; creating liquid gold. This is the picture of what our own words should be like, kind and pleasant. Interestingly enough, the word for bee in Hebrew is Deborah דּברה. Mind to take a guess of what the root word for deborah is? Dabar! That word literally means to speak, to talk, to sing, to declare and converse etc. It is also directly correlating to bamidbar, the wilderness, the place where Abba draws us to so that He can speak to us.
He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.
There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy.
Proverbs 12:17-20 NKJV
If the Law of Yahweh is written on our hearts and our hearts are fully emerged in His mercy, then the law of kindness will be on our lips. Our hearts will become a fountain of life and life giving words will flow from our mouths like streams of living waters. The hearer will be encouraged by these soluble syllables. It will be sweet to the taste, just like honey. Yes, Yahweh’s Words are even sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb!
Our oldest daughter is fascinated by all kinds of animals. She has this phenomenal natural ability to remember all kinds of facts about the most interesting creatures. Some of these animals have been tamed and domesticated over many years, yet some of them are still wild. This reminded me of what James had to say about our tongues.
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
James 3:4-12 NKJV
Well isn't that interesting!? It is quite a process to tame or domesticate an animal. It is no small task but can be done if the animal is bred correctly. In the same way, to tame our tongues is a process, one that is utterly impossible in human terms. We need to have patience on this journey. "Search my heart, Abba!" must become our desperate heart's cry. Our tongues must become circumcised. And the only way is through the Sword of His Word. We must cultivate our lips to speak the Truth, not with harshness or critique, but rather in love and with kindness. Yeshua longs for His bride to have wisdom on her lips. And as we all know well, the Fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. We do have reason to fear Yah in the words that we speak.
"The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things,
and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things.
I tell you that every idle word that men speak,
they will give account of it in the day of judgement.
For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:35-37 WEBBE
This is serious stuff! For every idle word we speak we will need to give account for on the day of judgment. This truly is reason to rein in this wild creature. The very thought that our words are (thought of our words being) recorded in heaven should stir up the fear of Yahweh within our hearts. Yahweh spoke the world into existence. If we are created then in His very image, we must learn to take our words seriously. They cannot be haphazardly swayed around like a sword that is negligently used. Our words must be sharpened and carefully used as an implement that builds up.
She opens her mouth in skillful and godly
Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household,
and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.
Proverbs 31:26-27 AMP
This is the very law our lips should live by; the law of Kindness. I have previously written about mercy and truth. Mercy in Hebrew can be translated as the word chesed. This is the very same word that is used in Proverbs 31 when the virtuous woman's mouth and tongue is described.
goodness, kindness, faithfulness
There is a famous quote by a Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, that says the following: "Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny."
Even worldly philosophers understand the importance of watching and guarding our thoughts. Bernard Meltzer, an American radio host, ran an advice call-in show in the 1970's. On one show he said the following words:
"Before you speak, ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful."
The Word of Yah, gives us a more in depth filter to work with. But it is in regards to our thoughts not our words. Yet the two are always linked.
Finally, brothers, whatever things are true,
whatever things are honourable,
whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report:
if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 WEBBE
The Passion Translation paraphrases this scripture as follows:
So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real,
honorable and admirable,
beautiful and respectful,
pure and holy,
merciful and kind.
And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God,
praising Him always.
Philippians 4:8 TPT
In Hebrew thinking our hearts (לב) are also the seat of our thinking. The heart is where our thoughts are formed. By guarding our hearts, we guard our thoughts. And by guarding our thoughts, we are guarding what comes out of our mouths.
May Abba anoint our lips with the law of kindness and guide our hearts to be clean and pure before Him.
In Him we live
And have our being
May the river of our lips
flow with goodness
May the fountain of our hearts
be drenched with kindness
Let go of all double-mindedness
As you guard your heart and your mind
Let the law of kindness be what you find
As a treasure in a field
Guarding it with mercy as a shield
I would like to extend a special thank you to Rene Lowings, who kindly edited this blog post.