Today’s Scripture: Matthew 12:36-37

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Growing up, this was one of my mom’s most used statements. She regularly used this old adage to remind us to speak to others with kindness, rather than with anger or hatred. This part of the lesson is one that I can get fully on board with: trying each day to speak with love.

As I’ve grown older, though, and my relationships with others have become more nuanced, this proverb has become a bit more problematic. It implies using kindness and flattery to accomplish one’s goal. I find myself wondering if it is ever right to use kindness to manipulate a person or situation. I admit that I am sometimes guilty of doing this, so I wonder: What if my goal is what I believe is best for the other person? Then is it okay for me to speak partial truths with extra kindness so that I help the other?

In searching the scriptures, as well as speaking with some wise friends, I believe the answer is no. One friend shared a unique perspective: John 1 speaks of the Word bringing things to life. In the same way, our words bring things to life. If my words are empty or untrue, then I am bringing things to life that are empty, inauthentic, and meaningless. I am bringing to life that which is soul-less. This is harmful, as it does not respect or honor the other as a beloved child of God.

Instead, we are invited to speak with intention (James 1:19) and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This, then, is the essence of simple speech and it leads us to spiritual maturity. As a person who too often speaks before she thinks, I am feeling convicted and know that I have a lot of growing to do in this area. How are you doing? How might you practice simple speech this week?

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” ― Warren Wiersbe