“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26, NKJV).
We are under grace, not law. And yet there is still law of some kind. Jesus gives a new “command”—to “love one another” (John 13:34). We are to carry no debts, except the continuing obligation “to love each other” (Romans 13:8). The whole law is summed up in the command to love (Galatians 5:14).
I am blessed to learn from Proverbs that kindness is a “law” (the Hebrew here is “torah”) that the virtuous woman carries around on her tongue. For the virtuous woman, nothing gets past her lips except what passes the bar of kindness: If the criterion of kindness is not met, she doesn’t say it.
Now we know that kindness does not mean ignoring sin. Kindness can be toothy, as when Jesus (who had all the fruit of the Spirit without measure) spoke with blunt honesty to His enemies. But Jesus’ goal, even with those people, was always their good—that the worst of them should repent and accept His offer of salvation.
James gives such good advice when he tells us to “be slow to speak” (James 1:19). I believe he means even physical slowness. It takes that fraction of a hesitation to filter out the fleshly impulses of malice, retaliation, selfishness, slander, uncleanness, or pride that the devil wants to get us to utter (James 3:15).
I find it invaluable to be very conscious about the notion of “kindness” when speaking. No goal that is not conscious will ever be more than good intentions. The rule of “kindness” is part of the Ephesians 6 weaponry we should carry with us throughout the day, along with such all-occasion questions as: “Is what I am about to say of faith?” And, “Is what I am about to say a blessing for the other person?” And, “Is what I am about to say most to the glory of God?”
We are not under law, but grace. But by that grace let us be master of our tongues or else hell, abhorring the vacuum, will be pleased to oblige (James 3). The Lord told Cain from the beginning that our choice is either to rule over our members or to see them ruled by the Serpent (Genesis 4:7).