Proverbs reminds us that our words have the power to build others up or tear them down. Choosing kindness over criticism is easier said than done, but when carried out with a loving, gracious spirit the effect is beautiful to behold. In this episode, Leslie shares practical encouragement for how to exchange rude remarks for words of life, love, and kindness towards those you interact with daily. Be inspired to reach beyond the typical responses of the culture towards Christ-infused speech.
Kindness is not a preschool term or a Sunday school concept. God’s Word makes it clear that kindness is supposed to be incorporated into the vocabulary and lifestyle of every follower of Christ as a means to point the way to Him. Proverbs 31:26 mentions that one of the key attributes of a woman of virtue is that the “law of kindness” is always on her tongue. Clearly, God indicates in many places through His Word that He cares about the words we speak. One of those places is in 1 Corinthians 13 when the Apostle Paul reminds us that true, Christlike love is not rude in its delivery. It makes us ask the question: Is there ever a place for rudeness in a Christian’s life?
Although it can be tempting to set up a “spiritual soapbox” towards those who may not be at the same spot we are in our spiritual journey, we would do well to remember the wisdom of James 1:20, which tells us that the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God in someone else’s life. When truth is delivered in a rude, unkind, or critical manner it does not matter how much supporting Scripture we include in our delivery. Fleshly anger will never soften someone else’s spirit towards the things of God.
The truth is that we make decisions every day to use our words either to reflect or obstruct others seeing Christ in and through us. Be sure that your life and character are matching up to the words that you are speaking, sharing, or posting online. Live and speak in such a way where others are inspired and intrigued at the hope that is within you. Choose to communicate humbly and kindly what God is working and sanctifying in your life. This calling God has laid on our lives to honor Him with every word and encourage others along the way is impossible without the help of His Spirit.
Ways to Exchange Criticism for Kindness
- Communicate with humility and kindness.
- Pray boldly and consistently for those that seem hardened or insensitive in full faith that God is the One who changes hearts, not us.
- Work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in allowing your words to be tempered with love, patience, and graciousness.
- Surrender your emotions to the control of the Holy Spirit.
- Refrain from using the world’s tactics of dealing with confrontation or disagreement (i.e. the silent treatment, sarcasm, rude retorts, etc.).
- Refuse to give emotions a stage in your life. Instead when deciding how to respond to a situation, don’t ask, “How do I feel about this?” but “What does God say about this?”
- Meditate on attributes or traits that you can appreciate with those that are hard to love in your life.
- Rather than giving sway to spiritual pride when you are tempted to think of the weaknesses of others, remember how much you have been forgiven and what Christ has done for you. It will enable you to extend that same grace to others.
- Dedicate your tongue and words to God’s purposes.
- Lean upon God’s grace for help with self-control, one of the Fruits of the Spirit that is often overlooked in Galatians 5:22-23.
A few simple words of kindness can truly alter someone’s life and open a hardened heart towards God’s truth. Don’t underestimate the power of faithful prayer, consistent love, and humble, kind words. As you faithfully walk out a lifestyle that seeks to encourage others, you will be amazed at the doors of opportunity that open as a result.
The Spirit…brings a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience toward others…is it not a strength to remember, when we feel our patience wearing thin, that “patience toward others” is a gift to be had? We can easily get to the end of our own patience, but not to the end of our God’s. One of my dearest friends wrote those words in a beautiful poem called Prayer Before Nature: ‘Anoint mine eyes with eye-salve, mighty Savior, as through this wonder-world of Thine I stray, let nought in my soul’s gesture or behavior obstruct sweet glimpses of Thyself today.’ If we pray that prayer truly, we shall not, by little acts of careless rudeness, make it harder for others to see the Lord Jesus. And if anyone is inclined to think that rudeness and honesty run together, and politeness and insecurity, I will tell you what I have found: the strongest, bravest, truest people I ever knew were (are) the most gentle-mannered Good manners are not among the things that do not matter. Can we imagine our Lord Jesus ever being rude?
– Amy Carmichael, Thou Givest, They Gather
If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
– Amy Carmichael, If
Preach Christ at all times, and if necessary, use words.
– Francis de Assisi
God doesn’t give us discernment so that we may criticize, but so that we may intercede
– Oswald Chambers
- Proverbs 31:26
- James 1:20
- Galatians 5:22-23
- 1 Corinthians 13:5
- Proverbs 17:27
- 1 Timothy 4:12
- Proverbs 15:1