Friday, February 17, 2012

Saying Something Nice

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet...She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:10-21; 25-26 NIV)

I am finally circling back to the Proverbs 31 woman. I am determined to finish this series. To see earlier posts click on the links in the quoted passage above. I'm amazed it has been such a long gap since my last post in this series (late September) because with each study I learn more about who God wants me to be. As a chronic "do-er" it is so important to remind myself that God looks on the heart more than the hands.

Today's adjectives both describe the Proverbs 31 woman's speech. So far we haven't really heard her voice. She works, she gives, she invests, but so far she hasn't said much. In this verse we get to eavesdrop on her conversation and find that it is characterized by wisdom and faithful teaching. In Hebrew the word for wisdom here is chokmah and can be interpreted as wisdom, skillful, wisely, or wit. It is derived from the word chakam, a primary root that means to be wise in mind, word or action. This implies that the Proverbs 31 woman is skillful conversationalist who pays attention to her words.

In the King James Version, this verse is translated, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." The Hebrew word for kindness is checed and it means kindness, piety, beauty, favor, and merciful. So although this woman possesses a lot of wisdom, she is kind and considerate about how she dispenses it. Her words are beautiful and merciful.

In our culture I think there has been a general coarsening of our words. We are not trained to think before we  speak. Even if there might be an open microphone and video camera around, and our words might end up as the next viral YouTube link, we tend to speak first and explain later. I can definitely learn a thing or two from the Proverbs 31 woman, especially as I speak to my children. How often are my words of wisdom laced with the law of "do as I say right now, Buster" rather than the law of kindness.

I think I'll run an experiment for a few days and see if I can keep the law of kindness in mind as I'm speaking. I'll report back here in a week and let you know what happened. Want to join the fun? Just leave a comment below...


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