A kind person is known by their words. There are two ways the speech of a person shows kindness: their choice of words and the tone of voice they use when speaking.
When we love someone we are careful about the specific words we use. Some words are more volatile than others and make it easy to invite conflict. When my wife was in Bible college she had a class called “Pastor’s Wife” taught by Mrs. Joy Martin. It was one of her favorite courses.
Paula told me something that Mrs. Martin shared with the ladies that is so true and applies to men and women. She said, “When you speak to your spouse never say ‘always’ and ‘never'”. When we exaggerate to make a point we cause the other person to react negatively. Kindness is concerned with the words that are used; they are not spoken haphazardly, but with great care.
I have learned that the vast majority of time that people don’t react to the words we use as much as how we say them. Flammable words are greatly reduced simply by not using an angry or severe tone of voice.
The Bible admonishes us to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10). The words “kindly affectioned” mean to “cherish as you would your family”. It has the idea of treating someone with tenderness and as being very dear when expressing one’s feelings.
Both the choice of our words and the tone of them is encompassed in this command. One of the characteristics of the virtuous woman is that she knew how to speak graciously and kindly.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness”. (Proverbs 31:26). The word “law” means “to govern or rule”. It means that the guiding principle that governed her speech was kindness. If it wasn’t, she didn’t say it.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to those we love is kind words. After Joseph had been betrayed by his brothers (over ten years earlier) and their father had died, the brothers feared his reaction to them. He was one of the most powerful men on earth and could do whatever he wanted to them. They assumed Joseph had withheld his wrath only because their Dad had been living and now that he was gone he would punish them.
Here is a snippet of his words to them in that context, “Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them”. (Genesis 50:21). Here, kind words were undeserved words of comfort and given with a gracious, gentle tone.
All of us struggle with this at times, but I think those that have grown up in a home where parents spoke abruptly, harshly, and without gentleness have a tendency toward speaking unkindly. At best, improvements may have been made, but the quality of the words spoken at home in the past was so negative and thoughtless that it left a deeper impact than was realized.
I think that most people that aren’t kind in their words don’t know they speak that way. I knew a grandfather that spoke gruffly to his small grandchildren, but had no idea he was that way. He was so conditioned to it and those around him had just learned to accept it. However, his family never felt loved by him because of his caustic and unpleasant choice of words and the tone with which he used them.
Today as you interact with those around you, especially your family, consider what you say and how you say it. It will make a huge impact in a positive way on the quality of the relationship. People will look forward to seeing you, simply because there are so few people today that speak kindly.
It’s trite, but so true. There’s a three-fold test for our words: is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary? Some things that are true are not necessary to be said and it is kindness that keeps us from saying them. Learn to be responsible for what you say and how you say it.
Apologize when the Spirit of God convicts you about unkind words. I have had to do so with my family, friends, and staff at church with whom I serve. Since “charity is…kindness” (I Corinthians 13:4), this is a simple, but powerful way to let people know you really do love them and they will sense it.