Let “the Law of Loving-Kindness” Safeguard Your Tongue
“Her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.”—PROV. 31:26.
1, 2. (a) What quality are Jehovah’s worshippers encouraged to cultivate? (b) What will be discussed in this article?
THE weighty message that King Lemuel of ancient times received from his mother included an important qualification of a good wife. “Her mouth she has opened in wisdom,” he was informed, “and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.” (Prov. 31:1, 10, 26) Loving-kindness is desirable upon the tongue of a wise woman as well as all others who want to please Jehovah God. (Read Proverbs 19:22.) Loving-kindness should be evident in the speech of all true worshippers.
2 What is loving-kindness? Toward whom is it to be displayed? What will help us to put “the law of loving-kindness” upon our tongue? How will doing so affect our communication with family members and fellow Christians?
When Kindness Is Motivated by Loyal Love
3, 4. (a) What is loving-kindness? (b) How does loving-kindness differ from general kindness, or human kindness?
3 As the very term suggests, loving-kindness includes the traits of love and kindness. It involves kindness, that is, taking a personal interest in others and showing that concern by helpful deeds and thoughtful words. Since love is also a factor, displaying loving-kindness calls for taking an interest in the welfare of others out of love for them. However, the original-language word for loving-kindness means more than kindness stemming from love. Loving-kindness is the kindness that willingly and loyally attaches itself to someone until its purpose regarding that person comes to fruition.
4 Loving-kindness differs from kindness in yet another sense. General kindness, or human kindness, can be expressed even toward strangers. The apostle Paul and 275 others who were shipwrecked with him were shown this type of kindness by the inhabitants of the island of Malta—people they had never even met. (Acts 27:37–28:2) On the other hand, loving-kindness has to do with the loyal attachment between individuals who have already developed a relationship.* This was what the Kenites showed to “all the sons of Israel at the time of their coming up out of Egypt.”—1 Sam. 15:6.
Meditation and Prayer Essential
5. What will help us to bridle our tongue?
5 Reflecting loving-kindness in our speech is by no means easy. Referring to the tongue, the disciple James wrote: “Not one of mankind can get it tamed. An unruly injurious thing, it is full of death-dealing poison.” (Jas. 3:8) What can help us to bridle this body member that is so difficult to control? Jesus’ words to the religious leaders of his day give us insight. He said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) To have loving-kindness safeguard our tongue, we need to implant that quality in our heart—our inner person. Let us see how meditation and prayer help us to do just that.
6. Why should we appreciatively meditate on Jehovah’s acts of loving-kindness?
6 Jehovah God is “abundant in loving-kindness,” states the Bible. (Ex. 34:6) “Your loving-kindness, O Jehovah,” sang the psalmist, “has filled the earth.” (Ps. 119:64) The Scriptures contain numerous accounts of how Jehovah showed loving-kindness to his worshippers. Taking time to meditate appreciatively on ‘Jehovah’s dealings’ can instill in us the desire to cultivate this godly quality.—Read Psalm 77:12.
7, 8. (a) What act of loving-kindness did Jehovah perform toward Lot and his family? (b) How did David feel about being a recipient of God’s loving-kindness?
7 For example, think about how Jehovah delivered Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family when He brought about the destruction of Sodom, the city where they lived. As that time drew closer, the angels who had come to Lot urged him to take his family and quickly leave the city. “When he kept lingering,” says the Bible, “then in the compassion of Jehovah upon him, the [angels] seized hold of his hand and of the hand of his wife and of the hands of his two daughters and they proceeded to bring him out and to station him outside the city.” Are not our hearts touched when we reflect on this saving act, and are we not moved to acknowledge that it was an expression of God’s loving-kindness?—Gen. 19:16, 19.
8 Consider also the example of King David of ancient Israel, who sang: “[Jehovah] is forgiving all your error, [he] is healing all your maladies.” How David must have appreciated being shown forgiveness for his sin with Bath-sheba! He extolled Jehovah, saying: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, his loving-kindness is superior toward those fearing him.” (Ps. 103:3, 11) Meditating on these and other Scriptural accounts fills our hearts with gratitude for Jehovah’s loving-kindness, and we are moved to praise and thank him. The more grateful we are at heart, the more inclined we are to become imitators of the true God.—Eph. 5:1.
9. What powerful reason is there for Jehovah’s worshippers to display loving-kindness in their daily life?
9 Scriptural examples show that Jehovah extends his loving-kindness—his loyal love—to those who already have an approved relationship with him. What about those who lack such a bond with the living God? Is Jehovah harsh or unkind toward them? Not at all. “[God] is kind toward the unthankful and wicked,” states Luke 6:35. “He makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45) Before learning the truth and acting on it, we were recipients of God’s kindness, or general kindness. As his worshippers, however, we have become the objects of his loyal love—his steadfast loving-kindness. (Read Isaiah 54:10.) How thankful we can be for that! And what a powerful reason that is for displaying loving-kindness in our speech as well as in other aspects of our daily life!
10. Why is prayer an invaluable aid in making loving-kindness a part of our personality?
10 An invaluable aid in our cultivating loving-kindness is the privilege of prayer. This is because love and kindness—elements of loving-kindness—are aspects of the fruitage of Jehovah’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22) We can instill loving-kindness in our hearts by coming under the influence of that spirit. The most direct way to receive Jehovah’s holy spirit is to ask for it in prayer. (Luke 11:13) It is appropriate that we repeatedly pray for God’s spirit and accept its guidance. Yes, meditation and prayer are essential if we are to have the law of loving-kindness upon our tongues.
Upon the Tongues of Marriage Mates
11. (a) How do we know that Jehovah expects husbands to show their wives loving-kindness? (b) In what way can the law of loving-kindness help a husband safeguard his tongue?
11 The apostle Paul exhorts husbands: “Continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25) Paul also reminds them of what Jehovah told Adam and Eve. The apostle writes: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Eph. 5:31) Clearly, Jehovah expects husbands to stick loyally to their wives, always showing them loving-kindness. A husband whose tongue is governed by loyal love does not expose the faults of his wife in public or speak disparagingly of her. He is happy to praise her. (Prov. 31:28) If for some reason friction arises in the relationship, loving-kindness moves the husband to restrain his tongue from humiliating his wife.
12. How can a wife’s speech show that the law of loving-kindness governs her tongue?
12 The law of loving-kindness should also govern the tongue of the wife. Her speech should not be influenced by the spirit of the world. Having “deep respect for her husband,” she speaks well of him in public and increases the respect others may already have for him. (Eph. 5:33) Not wanting to diminish the respect the children have for their father, she refrains from disagreeing with him or questioning his opinion in front of them. She resolves such matters in private. “The truly wise woman has built up her house,” says the Bible. (Prov. 14:1) Her home is a pleasant and comfortable place for the entire family.
13. Where in particular should the law of loving-kindness rule, and how can it do so?
13 Even in the privacy of their home, marriage mates must continue to use their tongues in a way that shows that they have respect for each other. “Put them all away from you,” wrote Paul, “wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.” He added: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. . . . Clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:8, 12-14) When children are accustomed to hearing loving and kind speech in the home, not only will they thrive but they will be more likely to imitate their parents’ way of speaking.
14. In what way can family heads use their tongue to comfort those under their care?
14 The psalmist wrote of Jehovah: “May your loving-kindness serve, please, to comfort me.” (Ps. 119:76) An outstanding way in which Jehovah comforts his people is by giving them exhortation and guidance. (Ps. 119:105) How can family heads benefit from the example of our heavenly Father and use their tongue to comfort those under their care? They can do so by providing needed direction and encouragement. What a fine opportunity the Family Worship evening provides to discover spiritual treasures!—Prov. 24:4.
Show Loyal Love to Fellow Believers
15. How may elders and other spiritually mature ones use their tongue to safeguard others in the congregation?
15 “Let your loving-kindness and your trueness themselves constantly safeguard me,” prayed King David. (Ps. 40:11) How may Christian elders and other spiritually mature ones in the congregation imitate Jehovah in this regard? Using our tongue to direct attention to Scriptural information certainly is an act of loving-kindness.—Prov. 17:17.
16, 17. What are some ways in which we can show that our speech is governed by the law of loving-kindness?
16 What should we do if we observe a Christian heading in a direction that conflicts with Bible principles? Would not loving-kindness move us to use our tongue to try to correct him? (Ps. 141:5) If we come to know of a serious sin committed by a fellow believer, loyal love moves us to encourage the wrongdoer to “call the older men of the congregation to him” so that they can “pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah.” (Jas. 5:14) If the wrongdoer fails to contact the elders, our not reporting the matter is neither loving nor kind. Some among us may be discouraged, lonely, afflicted with feelings of unworthiness, or overwhelmed by disappointments. A fine way for us to demonstrate that the law of loving-kindness is upon our tongue is that we “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.”—1 Thess. 5:14.
17 How should we respond when rumors about fellow believers are circulated by God’s enemies? Rather than questioning the integrity of our brothers, we ought to dismiss such talk silently or ask the accuser, if he is reasonable, whether he is really sure that there is a basis for his remarks. If enemies of God’s people seek to know the whereabouts of our Christian brothers in order to bring them harm, loyal love for our brothers dictates that we not provide the information.—Prov. 18:24.
The Man of “Loving-Kindness Will Find Life”
18, 19. Why should the law of loving-kindness not depart from our tongue in dealings with fellow worshippers?
18 Loyal love should be evident in all our dealings with fellow worshippers of Jehovah. Even under difficult circumstances, the law of loving-kindness should not depart from our tongue. When the loving-kindness of the sons of Israel became “like the dew that early goes away,” Jehovah was displeased. (Hos. 6:4, 6) On the other hand, Jehovah takes pleasure in a regular pattern of loving-kindness. Consider how he blesses those who pursue it.
19 Proverbs 21:21 states: “He that is pursuing righteousness and loving-kindness will find life, righteousness and glory.” Among the blessings such a person will experience is that he will find life—not a brief existence but life without end. Jehovah helps him to “get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:12, 19) By all means, then, let us “carry on with one another loving-kindness.”—Zech. 7:9.
For further discussion of how loving-kindness differs from loyalty, love, and kindness, see the May 15, 2002, issue of The Watchtower, pages 12-13, 18-19.
Can You Explain?
• How would you define loving-kindness?
• What will help us to have the law of loving-kindness upon our tongue?
• How may marriage mates show loyal love in their speech?
• What shows that the law of loving-kindness is upon our tongue in our dealings with fellow believers?
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David extolled Jehovah’s loving-kindness
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Do you have a regular Family Worship evening?