Proverbs 31:26, “The law of kindness is on her tongue. . .”
The Proverbs 31 woman (who was not an actual person, which is good to know) was praised for her multiple virtues. One of her outstanding qualities was kindness, which is defined as gentleness or benevolence. As our American culture grows increasingly cynical, crude, divisive and confusing, simple kindness shown to others is more vital to our gospel witness than ever before.
I have observed over my years of ministry, and life in general, that kindness can touch the human heart like nothing else.
Here are three observations about kindness:
Kindness should be the “law” on our tongues.
Kindness should be our ruling standard, not an optional response, no matter how frustrated or angry we may be. Unfortunately, Christians are not always known for kind words toward those they disagree with, especially on the volatile cultural issues of our day. Kindness does not mean agreement with our adversaries, but rather should characterize our conversational tone and intent. This requires not just self-control but a constant reliance on the Holy Spirit to speak and love others through us.
Kindness can bring you the favor of others.
Proverbs 11:16 says, “A kind and gentle woman gains respect.” I saw this principle in action a number of years ago. I was working with a group of high schoolers on a church project along with a few other adults. During one of their practices, they were acting like, well, high schoolers. One of the adults became furious with them, harshly scolding them, raising his voice and slamming the door as he stormed out the room. I was at the back of the room, observing this scene and trying to be invisible. That wasn’t the end of the scenario. I heard the students’ comments and saw how their respect for that adult was badly damaged. His influence had been greatly diminished after his outburst. The verse above was in my Bible readings that week and believe me, I took note of it and learned a lesson I pray I never forget.
Kindness diffuses anger.
According to Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” A quiet and gracious word often softens the heart of an angry or hurt person. If we speak sharply to someone, we expect a sharp word in return. But an unexpected kind response can quickly turn a conversation in a totally different direction. I have noticed that kindness is its own reward. It keeps me out of trouble, and I don’t have to explain or apologize for something I should never have said.
Kindness is irresistible.
After all, “It is the kindness of God that draws us to repentance,” as the writer of Romans 2:4 states. As recipients of His kindness, we must consistently do the same for others, just as the Proverbs 31 woman would. Though the most intense and difficult conflicts may need more than one “gentle answer,” the grace of God and our speech can be characterized by the quiet power of kindness.
Published August 29, 2016