Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

A Gentle Tongue

on March 7, 2014

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

I was not born with a gentle tongue. I think that before I could even form words I was probably complaining, whining, criticizing, debating and making large declarations. I have always been somewhat strong-willed and opinionated. I admit it, though I’m not proud of my disposition. It is most certainly my nature to speak harshly, confidently, arrogantly and sometimes without consideration for how my words may be received.

That being confessed, I share with great joy that God has and is always working on me to mold me into the kind of woman He wants me to be. He is taking my stubborn tongue and teaching it to be gentle so that my words are a blessing to my family, friends and the lost instead of being a loud and brassy, clamorous noise. This education in speaking with gentleness does not come easy for me and so I must be walking in the Spirit to be able to do what my hearts wants. As with so many struggles, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

In Proverbs 15:4 there, the word for “gentle” is the Hebrew word “marpe'” and it’s definition may surprise you. It surprised me as I looked into it. The word means, “gentle, soothing, profitable, able to cure, healing and sound of mind.” In other words, it’s not just the tone of the voice that is used. Gentle does not equal quiet. It’s the words that are spoken that matter the most. The words we speak with the tongue should be soothing, healing words. They should minister to and edify those around us. They should bring comfort, joy, peace and be filled with love. Isn’t that beautiful?

“A healing, soothing tongue is a tree of life…”.

Words are powerful indeed. Our tongues can bring life and health and goodness. With wisdom and spiritual maturity we can truly allow God to use our tongues to minister to His children and to share the gospel with the lost. We can use our words to build up our husbands and our children. We can use our tongues to teach our kids the ways of the Lord and to encourage those younger than us in the faith to grow in the Lord. The tongue can be a tree of life, powerful and edifying, or it can be used to break the spirit with perverseness.

The Hebrew word for “perverseness” is “celeph” which means, “crookedness, perverseness, crooked dealing, and perversion.” When we use our tongue for evil, we can literally crush the spirit. Another way to consider this is that, when we use the members of our body (including the tongue) to do/say evil, we absolutely quench the Spirit of God within us. Our crookedness and perversion keeps us from being able to minister to our families and friends or to serve God as we desire to do.

So what is crookedness or perversion of the tongue? A good indication is found in the scriptures surrounding this one in Proverbs 15 and in other verses throughout scripture. Here are some of the descriptions God uses in regards to the tongue/words of the crooked.

“…a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“…the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:2

“The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Proverbs 15:7

“….the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Proverbs 15:28

“May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts…” Psalm 12:3

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” Psalm 34:13

“Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.” Psalm 52:2

These are just a few verses. There are many, many more. Lying, gossip, speaking disrespectfully to your husband, stirring up wrath and anger, inciting division, breaking people down, etc. are all ways that we use our tongue for perverseness rather than for edification. We want our words to bring life, not misery. We want to speak encouragement, not judgement. We want everything we say to be filled with love and wisdom and kindness.

I thank the Lord abundantly that He continues to chip away at the areas of my life where I still struggle with sin, and this is one of those areas. I know my weakness to speak with anything but gentleness and blessing. I submit my heart and my tongue to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to perfect His love in me and to make me an instrument of blessing, encouragement and edification, within my home and outside as well. I thank Him for bringing me this far and thank Him for what He’s yet to do. Hallelujah!

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4 responses to “A Gentle Tongue

  1. Taking the Epistle says:

    Awesome blog

  2. Very good post. I think this is one lesson that we need to be re-taught” every now and then…..

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