"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11
She was one of the sweetest little ladies I ever met. Quiet and meek, she never tried to be the center of attention; but her eyes danced and she had a mischievous grin that spoke of a fun-loving spirit. She blushed easily and we all loved to tease her, gently of course. Everybody loved Aunt Barb.
I remember when those sparkling blue eyes started to lose some of their shine, and when her smile wasn't quite as ready. She grew quieter than ever and she participated in family conversations less and less. She explained that she was having trouble with confusion. She was afraid to try to talk because she'd forget what she was saying in mid-sentence. An intelligent woman, Aunt Barb had been a teacher and it was more than frustrating for her to be unable to form her thoughts into words. She withdrew into herself.
Her confusion grew worse as Alzheimer's destroyed that sharp mind. Over the course of several years she worsened until her husband, crushed because he couldn't care for her at home any longer, had to place her in a nursing home. He visited her faithfully, every day, even when she had no idea who he was. (That's what true love is all about...but that's another post in itself....)
When Aunt Barb passed away we all hated to lose her but, in reality, we'd lost her long before the day of her death.
At her funeral we listened to the beautiful songs, kind words, and recounted memories, and we were even more grateful for the opportunity to have known this great woman. I enjoyed hearing stories of her life and learning more about this wonderful lady, but what stood out in my mind was a phrase that seemed to be spoken over and over during that memorial service.
"She never spoke an unkind word about anyone."
That statement has been made of other people, but somehow it resonated with me that day, and has echoed in my mind ever since. "She never spoke an unkind word about anyone...."
What a convicting testimony.
There was a reason for her sweetness; for her reputation for only speaking in kindness. She was a true Christian. She lived what she professed, and everyone who knew her, even when she was so ill, knew that here was a true saint.
The Bible says:
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building it up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29 ESV
"The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things." Proverbs 15:28 ESV
"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." Proverbs 15:4 ESV
"Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!" Psalm 141:3 ESV
Thankfully, there is hope for those of us who wish to succeed in this area. God wouldn't warn against sins of the tongue so clearly in His Word if He didn't also offer the help needed to overcome the temptation to speak in ways that we shouldn't.
I hope that, when my life is over, they can say, "I never remember hearing her speak an unkind word about anyone." It's still possible. :)
"If someone were to pay you ten cents for every kind word you ever spoke and collect five cents for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?" ~Unknown