The Proverbs 31 woman is known for speaking words of wisdom and using her speech to build others up and honor the Lord with her words.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
Yet if we’re not careful, it’s easy for our tongue to get the best of us and our words can be anything but wise.
Choose your words wisely… you can’t take them back
“You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.” When I was an elementary school counselor, we used this metaphor to teach kids, once words left their mouth, they were impossible to put back.
Just like with words, some people squeeze the tube a little bit and regret saying mean or unkind words. Then, there are others who take the toothpaste tube and squirt it everywhere, leaving damaged feelings in their wake!
Words are powerful.
They have the capacity to heal, encourage, and build others up. However, they also have the power to destroy.
And just like we should gently squeeze our tube of toothpaste, we should gently choose our words to guard the hearts of others.
How the Proverbs 31 Woman Uses Words of Wisdom
God has given wisdom to the woman praised in Proverbs 31. She knows that words of wisdom are powerful and she carefully chooses how she responds.
The Message version says “When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say and she always says it kindly”.
Notice first the words ‘when’ and ‘always’.
This is not hit or miss. She doesn’t do it only when she feels like it or when things go her way.
When indicates restraint; she may choose to say nothing, or wait for the appropriate timing.
Always suggests that her message and its effects on the listener are consistent.
Her words are worthwhile and kind.
The NIV says “faithful instruction is on her tongue”. She chooses words of wisdom and words of life instead of choosing a harsh reply or issuing a tone of impatience.
When I read this, I’m both impressed with and humbled by this woman. Honestly, her character reminds me of Jesus! She is a woman you want around because she can be trusted to always be faithful, wise, and kind.
Plus, she is the opposite of “toxic’. In a world that values “speaking your mind!”, it is tempting to write her off as a wallflower without much to say.
But the rest of the Proverbs reveal that she was a savvy businesswoman and a leader in her household and community. Her husband and children praise her, and their home is a place of stability, beauty, graciousness, and growth.
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How to Guard Your Tongue with Words of Wisdom
How did she gain control over her tongue?
In Luke 6:45, Jesus says “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’,; and in Proverbs 4:23, Solomon says “Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it”. (ESV)
Abundance and flow.
These powerful words I have come to associate with Holy Yoga and wellness.
Here’s how we can cultivate this abundant condition of our heart and train ourselves to speak words of wisdom.
- Confession, godly sorrow, and repentance of sin
- Spending time in His Word through a regular quiet time
- Listening to and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit
Over time I’ve realized that like a garden, our hearts and bodies require regular maintenance and cultivating. Often, speaking words of wisdom don’t come naturally or as a first response. However, these practical steps will cultivate a heart and speech that honors the Lord, even when we’re pressed and pushed.
Confess your sin and flesh tendencies to the Lord
While we only need saving once, dying with Christ and resurrecting is an ongoing process while we remain in this body! And let’s face it, our flesh doesn’t like to change or create godly, new thought patterns.
Yet a heart surrendered to God should forsake words that destroy and wreck havoc on those around us. Instead, we should seek to honor the Lord with our words, tone of voice, and by speaking biblical words of wisdom and life.
However, we make excuses why we lash out in anger, snap at our kids, or tear down our homes with harshness against our husband.
Instead, bring your struggle before the Lord and pray that He would help you move past this issue and guard your tongue with words of life. You can experience freedom!
Spend time in the Word
Through repentance, we prepare our heart for reading and digesting His Word. The Holy Spirit reveals Wisdom to our mind and sows it into our heart. David said in Psalm 119: 11, “thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (KJV)
When we empty our self, God promises to abundantly fill us up more than we can ask or imagine.
Look at the counsel in Proverbs 12:18, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (ESV). Then, in Proverbs 13:3, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life but he who opens up his lips wide comes to ruin” (ESV).
Recently, in the Holy Yoga leadership course, we’ve been exploring rebellion and insubordination in relation to authority.
When we are unhappy or perceive unfairness, our natural inclination may be grumbling, complaining, gossip and hostility. But whether in relation to authority or otherwise, these rarely create positive change in our relationships.
Intentionally or not, we destroy relationships or opportunities, we hurt people, and we hurt ourselves. And while we can seek forgiveness, sometimes we must live with the natural consequences of our rashness.
Yet filling your soul with the Word of God, allows His goodness and truth to seep deep into the core of your being. The more you saturate your heart with biblical truths and know His Word, the more words of wisdom will naturally overflow from you.
And when you fall and have made a big mess with the toothpaste tube (your words), God is there to lavish you with grace and offer you the opportunity to choose wisely the next time.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit
Finally, when we walk with Him and abide in Him, the abundance of the heart is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
What flows out are the blessings of the fruit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness and Self-control. This is fruit that hurting people long to taste!
I am encouraged by the verse in Matthew 6:33,
”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added unto you”. (NIV)
Wisdom provides a path that leads to peace and healing in the midst of messy and imperfect circumstances.
Because she trusts the Holy Spirit to work, a wise woman practices restraint, timing, kindness, and chooses words of wisdom.
I believe the wise woman in Proverbs must have diligently sought after God’s wisdom and pursed a deep fellowship with Him. As a result, the Lord gave it to her abundantly, and He will give it to us, when we “Seek it like silver, search for it as hidden treasure”. (Proverbs 2:4 ESV.)
We too can rest in knowing that ”Those who find (wisdom) are blessed with..life… honor, ways of pleasantness, paths of peace”. (Proverbs 3:13, ESV).
You CAN Speak Words of Wisdom!
Have you ever “squeezed the toothpaste” and wished you could put it back?
Know that nothing separates you from the love of Christ and even in times where you haven’t guarded your tongue, trust that He forgives you. Ask the Lord for wisdom to choose words of wisdom, even in difficult situations.
Or are you reminded of a time that you waited for God’s timing and Holy Spirit to provide words of wisdom and witnessed a path to peace or reconciliation open up? Give thanks and praise to God for his Wisdom and the ability to build others up with our words.
Post by Cynthia Chiariello – part of the Holy Yoga® writing team. Holy Yoga® provides world-class training where wellness practitioners are intersected by the living God and resourced to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Learn about Cindy’s recent Leadership Development Training here and take part in the next training starting August 30th.