The Bible says that a man who doesn’t sin with his words is perfect and has tamed something wilder than beasts and serpents (Js. 3:2-8). If this is the case ordinarily, how much more so are we up against it in a world that has embraced profanity, perversion, lies, and violent words and has the technological ability to send and multiply them exponentially around the world?
But this is one of the marks of a new heart in Christ. No man can tame the tongue (Js. 3:8), and out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Lk. 6:45). Therefore, only a new heart from God can turn the tongue into a well of blessing, and when He does, it is exponential blessing.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
The Proverbs 31 woman is the culminating summary of Lady Wisdom who was introduced in the opening chapters of Proverbs, as the woman a young man should seek to marry with all his strength. While wisdom certainly is understanding, knowledge, skills, and virtues, the picture of wisdom as a woman is not merely a picture, but part of the point is that seeking, finding, wooing, and marrying a good woman, and building a home with her under the blessing of God is where wisdom is found and cultivated. So wisdom is woman to be pursued, and a good woman embodies that wisdom, particularly in her words. But ultimately Christ is the wisdom of God and on His tongue is the law of kindness (1 Cor. 1:24, 30). Therefore, in every Christian home, everyone is learning to speak that glorious dialect.
THE TORAH OF GRACE
The word “Torah” is the word for “law,” and it refers specifically to the first five books of Moses, but Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4). The word “Torah” generically means “guidance” or “instruction.” So on the one hand, the mouth of wisdom includes teaching the grace of the law of God, the goodness of the law of God, the sweetness of the law of God: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul… the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart… more to be desired are they than gold… sweeter also than honey” (Ps. 19:7-11). “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (1 Jn. 5:3). On the other hand, the mouth of wisdom guides and instructs in grace, in kindness, toward grace and kindness. Ultimately, these two things are the same: for against the fruit of the Spirit “there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
LIES & FLATTERY
The law of kindness is first of all truthful: “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin” (Prov. 26:28). And while straight lies, cheating, and all deception must be renounced and repented of, flattery is often excused under the guise of being nice or kind. Flattery is false, insincere, or excessive praise, usually with the aim of either avoiding conflict or gaining some favor. Socrates said that flattery is a show of friendship but not the actual fruit. The evil woman flatters with her tongue; her lips drip honey, luring to sexual immorality (Prov. 2:16, 5:3, 6:24). Flattery is satanic, going all the way back to the garden (Gen. 3:4-5). True biblical love confronts sin in love (Lev. 18:17-18, Eph. 4:15).
Flattery may happen in a refusal to address sin or problems, and flattery may occur angling for honor or friendship or gifts. The Psalm says that those who flatter have “double-hearts” (Ps. 12:2); they have ulterior motives. But the law of kindness is sincere, single, simple (2 Cor. 1:12). The first Christians were characterized by this “singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46). The center of this kindness and singleness of heart is the fear of God; it is not “eyeservice,” or being “menpleasers” (Col. 3:22). It speaks always fully aware that Christ is in the room.
A TREE OF LIFE
As opposed to the hatred and destruction of lies and flattery, good words are a tree of life (Prov. 15:4). In particular, words of blessing are like good food for the soul: “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life” (Prov. 10:11). “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:11). “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.” (Prov. 13:2). In other words, we are always “eating” our words, either for good or for ill: “A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled” (Prov. 18:20). “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel” (Prov. 20:17). But the tongue of the wise is health (Prov. 12:18).
Pray, write, and say blessings over one another: Husbands, bless your wives literally (Prov. 31:28). Here are a few: “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24:60). “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners” (Song 6:4). Parents, especially fathers, say blessings over your children: “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Ps. 144:12).
When my children were young, I would say this over my sons: “May the Lord bless you and keep you and make you a mighty man; may you fight sin, Satan, giants, and dragons, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And I said this over my daughters: “May the Lord bless you and keep you and make you wise and beautiful; and may your children and grandchildren rise up and call you blessed.” Quote/imitate Scripture and write your own for bedtimes, Sabbath dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
We want to continue to cultivate a culture of blessing: “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee” (Ruth 2:4). “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted” (Prov. 11:11). And all of this is based on the fact that God’s Word and God’s ways are blessings. His command in the beginning was simultaneously a blessing (Gen. 1:28). And in Christ, His single-hearted word to us is hesed, His covenant faithfulness, His lovingkindness, to a thousand generations.