Ruling the Rudder
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly … The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:1-2, 4)
The first words of Proverbs Chapter Fifteen reminded me of yesterday’s verse, except that the author begins with a positive statement. It is all about controlling our speech, but this time with a positive bent. The impact of someone who knows how to use their words wisely produces peace, offers up timely knowledge and brings healing.
The Old Testament story of Abigail is a personification of the principle in Proverbs (1 Sam. 25:23-25). With one gracious and gratitude-filled statement, she turned David’s wrath into pity; his anger into action that reflected godly character.
My thoughts went to the New Testament where we are told: Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go (James 3:4). James compares the tongue to a ship’s rudder or a bit that controls a horse; small things that can give positive direction to large objects or animals.
This made me think of some of what I can say to build up those around me, especially as people live in a climate of fear and uncertainty. What can I do to encourage my neighbour today? How can I express appreciation to those who go to work to make sure that my needs are met, or that people are cared for? One kind comment goes a long way in making peace in the home. Of all the people who should know how to encourage people with their words, Christians should be on the forefront.
Asking God to fill us with his Spirit implies self-control, not in a negative sense, but in the positive. This day I want to ask God to make me aware of situations where I can bring a word of hope or encouragement, and then act upon the opportunity with a word aptly spoken.