Gracious & Kind
Proverbs 16:24 ESV
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
Mark 8:31-33 (Get behind me)
Proverbs 21:21 ESV
Thoughts on Scripture and Life
I’ve always been drawn to people who speak gracious encouraging words.
There’s a reason for that. There are a lot (a LOT) of critical people out there.
Plus, in addition to the plethora of critical people on the planet, they seem to think their mission in life is to freely tell everyone what they’re doing wrong.
So, why are there critical people who make it their mission in life to criticize?
I think there is a reason. I’ve found in our world, there are a lot of people who had one or even two parents or grandparents who constantly criticized them.
It’s really pretty sad. But, there is a solution.
Please know with help (like counseling) we can overcome the critical voices in our head that screams at us. We CAN also re-train ourselves by blocking out the critical voices that scream at us. However, that can be very difficult to accomplish without help. If you choose to re-train yourself, you have to be ever-diligent and aware of what you are thinking.
One of the best ways we can retrain ourselves is to intentionally speak gracious words.
Wise King Solomon wrote about gracious words in Proverbs 16:24. He said,
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Health to the body? Yes…our brain hears what we say and what we think. Gracious words are healthy for us. Critical words are not healthy. NOT healthy because the intention is to find fault with the other person. The critical person’s intent is to humiliate the person they criticize.
So when I said I am drawn to people who speak gracious words?
I am because gracious words build people up. And because it improves our overall health.
Plus, it’s also because I like them. I like gracious kind words.
I am drawn to them.
Why wouldn’t I be? I mean, why would I LIKE being around someone who criticizes me for doing stupid things or making silly mistakes?
Why would I not appreciate a thoughtful person who cares enough to use good words when they speak? Why would I/we not want to be around people who choose wisely to build another person up?
The Apostle Paul understood the importance of choosing kind words and forgiveness. He had studied all of King Solomon’s wise Proverbs and when he wrote to the church in Ephesus he urged them to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
That scripture reminded me of a woman I know. She has a great sense of humor and she has the gift of helping other people learn how to use kind words.
She is a truly honest person.
Nothing about her is hidden.
But she is so subtle when she helps others realize they are using unkind words that if you don’t watch and listen closely you might miss what just happened.
See, when people are being UN kind, she has a truthful way of making light of it while at the same time she gently gives the unkind person a look that makes them realize what they just did wasn’t okay.
It’s just a look. A one or two second glance.
It’s a friendly warning.
Like she wants them to come to terms with what they just did.
She’s giving them a chance to realize they are being critical and unkind.
Her look is different, but it’s a little like the look my dad used to give me when he wanted me to realize I needed to rethink something I did or said.
My dad would raise one eyebrow and lean toward me.
If I hadn’t grown up with my dad giving me that look, I might have missed how this woman gives an unkind critical person a very similar cue.
I’ve known her for years and as I have watched her around unkind people I have known that even though something the other person did wasn’t kind she still loved them. She had a way of letting them know she loves them by leaning toward them and smiling. Despite their unkind behavior she gently works with them.
I think she works with them the same way Jesus worked with Peter when he would say something outlandish. Jesus was kind, but honest. Peter knew Jesus loved him but what he just said was not quite okay.
For example in Mark 8:31-33 Jesus had just told His disciples about His coming death and resurrection and Peter took Him aside to rebuke Him (which Peter because he was afraid). Jesus clearly and honestly told Peter, “get behind me Satan”. We know Jesus still loved Peter but He spoke truth to him. Jesus wasn’t being critical or unkind. He was being honest. Basically what Jesus said was, “stop”. It was an act of kindness.
Truth, even hard truth IS an act of kindness.
You have to understand the exchange with Jesus (and with this woman) only lasted a few minutes. Other people in the room, even people within earshot didn’t even know what had just happened.
It was that subtle.
It was like one of those moments when you walk away thinking, “what just happened?”
I think what Jesus did with Peter was a very kind act, just like I think what the woman did to her unkind friend was a very kind act. They both loved the other person but ever so gently they reminded them without being critical they need to rethink what they just said and did.
What the woman did was right. It was a true act of kindness and it was all done in love.
King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:21, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
Pursue what is right.
Be honest. Be kind.
Then life, righteousness and honor will follow.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Be Gracious
Ask God to help you be honest and kind, but gracious.
In God, Deborah