Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. — Proverbs 16:24
I am such a Bible nerd. Not only do I love to learn the meaning behind the Hebrew or Greek words in Scripture, but I like to study certain English words that pop up at me, pogo-stick style, to find out why a particular word or phrase is used. And so I grew curious one day. Why does God use a honeycomb to describe gracious, sweet, and healing speech? I didn’t have to look far for my answer.
Jake is a teenage boy who lives in our neighborhood. He’s an outstanding football player and a wrestler. He’s also a bee-keeper who sells his amber jars of honey at local festivals and fairs. I decided to interview this high school entrepreneur one afternoon to discover all I could about the honey-making biz.
Jake told me the flavor and intensity of honey depends on what kind of nectar the bees drink in. Clover nectar produces honey that is light and heavenly sweet. Another flower’s nectar might create a dark, bitter product, with a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste. Smart beekeepers ensure that a beehive is strategically placed near a large patch of clover if they want to sell the sweetest, most delectable honey.
Jake also told me how crucial it is that the beehive be placed where the sun will hit it first thing in the morning, warming up the bees and causing them to get to work churning out the greatest quantity of sweet syrup possible.
“So,” I questioned my young friend, “is it safe to say the sweetness or bitterness of honey is determined by what the bee drinks in and the amount of time it spends in the sun — especially early in the morning?”
“Exactly!” he replied.
DING! DING! DING! We have a winner. I think I found my answer.
Perhaps it is also true that the sweetness or bitterness of our words will be determined by what we drink in and the amount of time we spend early with the Son.
But choosing grace will sometimes cost us. Spats and squabbles are oh-so-easy to fall into. We will have to resist the urge to lash out in anger. We might even have to bite down on our tongues.
But better a bleeding tongue than a family member’s wounded heart.
We might have to choose to let go of the need to prove our point, choosing instead to do the right thing: to impart grace and deal with the other person in love and with utmost patience.
We can choose to speak honestly with words that are direct, but that are also strategically tucked inside an envelope of grace.
When we choose to do this — even though it can be extremely difficult — we model to those closest to us a picture of Christ loving his church. Fights are abandoned. Tempers cool off. Stress simmers down. Our gracious words wash over the other person with love and compassion. We find ourselves faithful to God.
When we lace our speech with grace, healing happens.
So when a family member’s behavior threatens to knock the nice right out of us, we can pause before we pounce. (Or better yet, pause, pray, and then don’t pounce at all!) Take the advice I sometimes have to give myself: don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.
All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are “on purpose” people. God plopped them into your life for a reason. These souls — whether they are of the easy-to-love variety or the scratchy sandpaper kind — can be used by God to mold, reshape, and sometimes stretch our souls as he perpetually crafts us into creations becoming more and more like his Son.
Our people are watching, sizing up how we behave. What will they see? Stirred-up strife — or lovingly covered offenses? Words that incite spats and squabbles? Or speech that soothes and heals?
Pssst . . . The correct answer is “g.”
- Make it sweet. How would you rate your speech on the sweetness scale? Does it more closely resemble pure maple syrup or bitter grapefruit juice? If it were a candy, would it be strawberry taffy or a sour, green apple hard candy? Vow today to make your speech sweet like the honeycomb, without a hint of bitter or sour.
- Help it heal. Do the words you say and type have restorative qualities? Do they bind wounds and offer a balm of healing? Do you seek to make amends when others have been wronged by what you have said? Make it your goal today to make your interactions with others both health-giving and life-giving.
Lesson for the Lips
How are you doing in the areas of being careful what you drink in and spending time early with the Son? Do you see a correlation between how much time you spend each day drinking in God’s Word and how you use your words? Jot a few sentences here that describe your walk with God in this area currently.
Do you have any goals when it comes to spending focused time alone each day with Jesus? What’s working? What needs changing? Is it a matter of putting it on your schedule? Of having a friend hold you accountable? Write a few declarative sentences stating what your goals are for spending unrushed time with God each day.
Father, thank You for the lessons from the honeycomb. Help me to intentionally carve out time alone each day to meet with You. I want my speech to be sweet and soothing, drawing others to Your life-giving gospel. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from Zip It by Karen Ehman, copyright Karen Ehman.
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We want to be sweet. We want to be encouraging, uplifting, loving, embracing, and careful with our words. But, we can’t without first soaking up the Son! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!
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