Proverbs 16:21, 24 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction.[
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
The NIV says “pleasant words” in both these verses, but the Japanese says “kind words” in verse 24. The point is, how we speak is important, and it greatly impacts how our words are received. The Japanese links the two lines of verse 21, saying that a person who is genuinely wise is going to use pleasant words. We don’t necessarily think of honey (or honeycomb) as medicine, but kind words are certainly healing. As in all things, Jesus is our example here. He spoke very sharply to the Pharisees and others who were keeping people from God, but even there His words were not infected with jealousy or pride or ill will. He wanted those people to repent! His words always promoted understanding when they were received. As He told Pilate at His trial, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37) Some obviously were not on the side of truth, but Jesus always gave them the opportunity to come over, even Pilate. When we use words to wound and not heal, to strike out and not welcome, we are not being like Jesus, to say the least. A right relationship with God is the foundation and very definition of wisdom, and such a relationship will cause us to speak as He speaks, working His will in people’s hearts and lives for His glory.
I have had a gift for words since childhood, but I have not always used it well. Far too many times I have used words as a weapon, not in the sense of the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) but as a way to attack those of whom I was jealous. I had been wounded by words, and I was going to dish it out! Such an attitude benefits no one, least of all the one speaking. My words need to be gracious and tasty, (Colossians 4:6) bringing healing and understanding, as this passage says.
Father, thank You for the gift for words You have given me. Thank You also for my father, who both recognized my gift and warned me that even when my words needed to be a scalpel, they must not be infected with jealousy or malice or pride. May I indeed speak and write Your words in Your love, so that those words may produce Your results in the hearts and lives of those who receive them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!