"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
I am kind of a Bible nerd. I not only love to learn the meaning behind the Hebrew or Greek words in Scripture, I also like to study certain English words that catch my attention, drilling down deep to understand why a particular word or phrase is used.
And so when I read today’s key verse, Proverbs 16:24, I grew curious: Why did God use a honeycomb to describe gracious, sweet and healing speech? I needed only to look in my own neighborhood for my answer.
Down the street lives a teenager named Jake. He is a terrific football player and an avid wrestler. However, Jake is also a beekeeper who peddles his amber jars of honey at local festivals and fairs. I decided to interview this high school entrepreneur to discover all I could about the honey-making biz. He was very patient with all of my "whys," and his detailed answers fascinated me.
Jake told me that the flavor and intensity of honey depends on what kind of nectar the bees drink. Clover nectar produces honey that is refreshingly light and sweet. However, another flower’s nectar might create a murky, bitter product, with a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste. Wise beekeepers will be sure their beehive is strategically placed near a large patch of clover if they want the sweetest, most delectable honey there is.
He also emphasized the importance of situating the beehive where the sun will hit it early in the morning, warming up the bees and triggering them to get busy churning out the utmost amount of sweet syrup possible.
"So," I questioned my young friend, "is it safe to say that the sweetness or bitterness of honey is determined by what the bee drinks 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.
Perhaps it’s also true that the sweetness or bitterness of our words will be determined by what our hearts drink in each day, and the amount of time we spend early with the Son.
Today’s key verse states, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." If we long for our words to be laced with grace, rather than seasoned with snark, we need to think like a beekeeper: Watch what we drink and spend time in the Son.
By tucking God’s Word into our hearts — drinking in its life-changing truths daily as we spend time with Him — we can learn to speak gracious words that are sweetly soothing to the soul and bring healing and hope. Scripture read daily, studied often and memorized intentionally can teach us to speak strategically — yes, with words that are honest — but that are also lovingly tucked inside an envelope of grace.
When we lace our speech with grace, healing takes place.
So when someone else’s behavior threatens to knock the nice right out of us, we can pause before we pounce, taking the advice I sometimes have to give to myself: Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off. Instead, impart grace: sweet, healing, life-giving grace.
All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are "on-purpose" people. God placed them into your life for a reason. These souls — whether they are 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 that look more and more like his Son — especially in the way we speak.
Others are watching, sizing up what we say and how we say it. What will they see? Words that incite spats and squabbles? Or honey-sweet speech that soothes and heals?
Father, I pray I may carve out time to soak in Your presence, spending time in Your Word each day so I might speak and act more like Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ecclesiastes 10:12, "Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips." (NIV)
Proverbs 10:32, "The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse." (ESV)
If you need help in watching your words and keeping them in line with Scripture, you’ll appreciate Karen Ehman’s latest book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All
For a honey-themed "Sweet Speech" giveaway full of all sorts of goodies, head over to Karen Ehman’s blog
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "Never" and 10 being "Always," what number would you give yourself when asked how often your words are gracious and soothing rather than short and snippy?
What one thing should you remember when conversing with others, that will help you lace your speech with grace?
© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.