The Gift of Wise and Gracious Words
Scripture: Proverbs 25:11
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Everyone enjoys receiving a gift. Why not give your family and friends the gift of wise and gracious words this Christmas? In recent days I have been praying that God would help me to be careful not only in what I say but also in how I say it.
Because the Bible tells us that personal transformation is enabled by the renewing of the mind by use of Scripture (Psa. 119:9-11; Rom. 12:2), I began compiling verses from Scripture for use in daily meditation and prayer. I have found that the best way to know that I am praying according to the will of God is to pray the words of Scripture.
They are inspired words (2 Tim. 3:16). You can be sure that you are praying what is pleasing to God when your prayer uses His own words.
Further, we have a wonderful promise: “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:14, 15).
Why not join me on a thirty-day prayer journey and ask God to enable your words to be wise and gracious? As you read this prayer-guide, let it become the prayer of your heart. Go over all the verses each day, meditating on each of them and ask God to engraft the truth into your heart (Jam. 1:21) and transform your life.
Remember, wise and gracious communication involves three things:
- the words you choose,
- the tone of voice you use; and
- the non-verbal communication transmitted by your face, hands, and body movements.
As we pray, let’s ask God to sensitize us to all three areas of communication and pray that God will enable us to become aware of the changes He wants to make in our method of communication. Actual change is possible through the power of His Holy Spirit working in us.
Let’s begin our prayer journey by thinking about the importance of choosing wisely which words we allow to come out of our mouth. Think about each statement below and then reflect on the Scripture associated with the statement. Then, using the words of Scripture, turn them into a personal prayer.
For example, as you read Proverbs 12:18, you could pray, “O Lord, help me to be careful not to hurt anyone today with my words. Help me to speak only that which will help, instruct, and encourage those around me.” As you offer this prayer, please consider the following personal truths from God’s Word.
I. I Must Choose my Words Wisely
- My words can pierce and wound like a sword or bring healing to my listener.
- Proverbs 12:18: “There is that speaks like the piercings of a sword [one who speaks rashly or recklessly is like the thrusts of a sword; cutting remarks hurt, wound]: but the tongue of the wise is health [the words of the wise bring healing].
- My words spring from my thoughts and reveal my heart.
- Matthew 12:34: “Out of the abundance [overflow] of the heart the mouth speaketh [the mouth speaks from what fills the heart].
- Matthew 12:36, 37: “But I tell you that every idle word [careless word] that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified [acquitted], and by your words you will be condemned.”
- Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength [rock], and my redeemer.
- I must listen thoroughly before I express an opinion or pass judgment. I must not jump to conclusions before I have heard all the evidence.
- Proverbs 18:13: “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”
- I will not be quick to speak. When I do speak, I want to be kind and tender in what I say.
- Ecclesiastes 3:7: [There is] “a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
- Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
- I must be careful of my word choice. To be wise I must weigh my words carefully.
- Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous studies [ponders; considers; weighs how] to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things [the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words].”
- Proverbs 16:23: “The heart of the wise teaches [instructs] his mouth, and adds learning [persuasiveness] to his lips.”
- I will overlook cutting comments and insults that hurt me. I must not be like the fool who is quickly annoyed or easily offended.
- Proverbs 12:16: “A fool’s anger [vexation, annoyance] is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor [overlooks an insult].”
- I do not wish to be thought opinionated. I will endeavor to be quick to listen to others and refuse to focus primarily on expressing my own views.
- Proverbs 18:2: “A fool does not delight [takes no pleasure] in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind [they only want to air their own opinions].”
- I must be careful not to stir up arguments and strife. I do not wish to antagonize or provoke others by what I say.
- Proverbs 18:6: “A fool’s lips bring strife [get them in constant quarrels], And his mouth calls for blows [a whipping].”
- Proverbs 20:3: “Keeping away from [avoiding] strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel [only fools insist on quarreling; every fool is quick to quarrel].”
- My words are to have AGE (be appropriate, gracious, and edifying). If my words do not have AGE, they are unwholesome and displeasing to God.
- Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication [unwholesome words] proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good [appropriate; according to the need] to the use of edifying [building up; helping], that it may minister [give; impart] grace [help, strengthen, encouragement, instruction] unto the hearers.”
- Ecclesiastes 10:12: “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself [the words of a fool are self-destructive].”
- The ability to control my tongue is a mark of wisdom and godliness. My words can cause awful damage to others.
- James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”
- James 3:2: “For in many things we offend all [we all stumble in many ways]. If any man offend not in word [If anyone is never at fault in what he says], the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body [able to keep his whole body in check].”
- James 3:5-6: “The tongue is a little member [is a small part of the body], and boasts great things [it has great pretensions; makes great boasts] Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles! [a great forest can be set aflame by a little fire, small spark] And the tongue is a fire! a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. [The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence—and is set on fire by hell.]”
Lord, give me wisdom to keep from needlessly offending my family or acquaintances with my words. Help me to know what to say and when to say it.
- Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to be won [harder to reach; harder to win back] than a strong city: and their contentions [disputes] are like the bars of a castle [arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars].” Lord, help me to refrain telling the bad and disappointing things I know about
other people even though they are true.
- Psalm 15:1, 3: “O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He that backbites not [does not slander; refuses to gossip] with his tongue,nor doeth evil to his neighbor [does his neighbor no wrong], nor takes up a reproach [casts no slur; does not insult] against his neighbor [acquaintances].”
- Psalm 34:13: “Keep thy tongue from evil [wrong speech], and thy lips from speaking guile [deceptive speech].”
- Psalm 39:1: “I said, I will take heed to [watch; guard] my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle….”
II. I Must be Sensitive About the Tone of my Voice
Some experts believe tone of voice is up to seven times more powerful in certain situations than words themselves. Tone of voice can reflect a sarcastic, superior, or gracious manner of speaking. Tone involves loudness or softness, gentleness or harshness. Studies show that people unconsciously adapt to each other’s voice tones.
- Proverbs 15:1: “A soft [gentle] answer turns away wrath: but grievous [harsh] words stir up anger.”
- Proverbs 16:21: “The…sweetness of the lips [kind speech; pleasant words] increases [promotes] learning.”
- Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
- Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
III. I Must be Careful About my Non-Verbal Facial and Body Signals
Non-verbal communication (including facial expressions—your countenance, gestures, eye contact, posture, spatial relationship and touch (when appropriate)—strengthens, weakens, or sometimes even contradicts what we say.
Feelings of pride, anger, bitterness, fear, sensuality, and rebellion can show on our faces, without our even being aware of it. Changing facial expressions is probably the most difficult aspect of communication to correct.
This is largely because we are unaware of what our countenance is doing at any moment. Lord, help my face to shine with your beauty and gentleness.
- Ecclesiastes 8:1: “Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed [causes his stern face to beam; softens his harsh countenance; changes its hard appearance].”
The writer of Proverbs said, “A word fitly [skillfully] spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Pro. 25:11). Perhaps the greatest gift you may ever give to another person is your gift of wise and gracious words. God’s greatest gift to us was the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God’s wise and gracious “Word” to us (John 1:1, 14; Heb 1:2). Could it be that as you learn to choose carefully your words, that God will use your wise and gracious speech to enable others to hear more clearly what God is speaking to them in their heart?
May God bless you as you engraft His truth into your heart and life. Remember, your gift of wise and kind words may be the means by which others receive God’s wonderful gift of His Son.
Dr. Allan P. Brown teaches such courses as Christian Beliefs, Doctrine of Holiness, Wisdom Literature, Hebrew, Preaching Holiness, Romans and Galatians, and Letters to the Hebrews.
He has been on faculty at GBSC since 1996 and is the author of several books and articles.
Dr. Brown also speaks at churches, camp meetings, revivals and more.