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Proverbs 15:4

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

I love the word, “soothing”, don’t you? Soothing is a masculine noun which means health, healing – a remedy! The idea is restoration, cure, or renewal of or from illness. Is that the effect your tongue has on your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors, your waiter/waitress, etc? Do your words tend to sooth people…or harm them?

Combine that thought with the next phrase, “a tree of life”. Can you picture it? Healthy. Green. Strong branches. Beautiful, ripe fruit ready for harvesting. Are the words that you speak to others like that ripe fruit? Do they bring health and vitality? Do your words provide much needed shade in a world that can be harsh and unforgiving? Do your words provide a strong refuge for those seeking shelter? A soothing tongue does that, too.

On the other hand, “perversion” turns the tongue into a deadly weapon. In the original language, it points to deceitfulness or a twisting of the truth. A perverse tongue is self-serving and others-harming. It flatters those it wants to use or avoid and it lies to those it cares little for. A perverse tongue is powered by a darkened heart, and even a follower of Christ can fall prey to its seductiveness. When it speaks it can crush the spirit of its audience, sometimes right away, and sometimes days or weeks or even years later when it’s deceitfulness is found out.

Every Christian needs to be actively looking for opportunities to bring soothing words into someone’s life. Encouragement is a currency we don’t trade in much, but it should be one we use every day! On the other hand, and usually in the heat of the moment, we need to be aware of our tendency to be perverse in what we say…harmful…misleading. At those times we must remember that we have access to Holy Spirit powered self-control and sober-mindedness and we must choose to either change our words…or just remain silent…to sooth rather than to crush.

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