Suggested Reading: Romans 12:1-2
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”—Proverbs 15:4
“The tree of life” is an often-repeated phrase in the Book of Proverbs. It refers to the Gospel that is spoken into a life. A Gospel that brings health, healing, peace, wholeness, identity, and value. A Gospel that mends the broken and brings hope. The Gospel given to others, but not only others, a Gospel that should be applied to ourselves as well.
Think of the way you have with yourself. The way you treat or talk to yourself. Do you apply the Gospel you give to others, to yourself? Are you gentle with yourself or is that gentleness applied and reserved only to others? Are the things you say to yourself encouraging, do they build your confidence, undergird, and affirm the good God has sown into you? Solomon wrote that a gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” We know how this applies to how we speak to and over others. But it also applies to us.
Think of the person you talk to, the people you know who never have anything good to say about themselves. Yes, they confess they are a child of the MOST High God, made in his image, “but” quickly follows. They think negatively about themselves, ridicule and only see their flaws, remember their shortcomings or failures, concentrate on their mistakes. They do not need other people to berate them because they do a good job of it all by themselves. I am convinced they have been fed a diet of lies, and darkness for some time, maybe as far back as the day they were born, and now cannot see or feel otherwise. Their perverseness toward themselves reflect what has been taken from them: the truth about their beauty, value, worth, capabilities, possibilities, strengths. Sometimes we can detect those who are prone to be self-destructive, practice self-harming behaviors, given to extremism: all or nothing, plagued with eating disorders, cutting, suicidal tendencies, and addictions are tied to their behavior and their inner brokenness.
In the following chapter Solomon writes, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov. 16:24) Our words have the power of life and death. Power to bring life and health to our own body, mind, soul, and life. That does not apply only to the things we say and speak over others, it applies to ourselves as well. The words we speak in our mind, the thoughts we have about ourselves have the power of life and death also. God’s counsel to us is sweet, powerful, renewing, and life-giving, and he wants us to pick up on these ways and deal with ourselves likewise.
The devil is a perverse and dark spirit; a powerful, destructive force moving throughout the earth seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He is real and the damage he does over the earth and in the lives of people is impactful and harmful. One of the things he does is pick at the soul and mind until he has completely conditioned the mind and destroyed the soul; shredded all the truth and life God has sown there.
Opening God’s word, reading his promises and love letters, receiving sound and biblical counsel will bring healing to the damaged soul, transform the mind, and soften the tongue. Hope and a renewed sense of value and worth will blossom just as the cherry blossoms appear on the branches after a long harsh winter.
God implores us to embrace a gracious attitude toward ourselves, to learn to use the encouragement we read in his word and receive from others as a tool and instrument to heal ourselves. To be our own physician healing ourselves with the sweetness of the Gospel, with grace and gentleness as our medicine. Putting ourselves on a steady diet of the Lord’s kindness will transform our lowly mind, our worldly thoughts into God’s heavenly and righteous perspective and truth. Our tongue, thoughts, and attitude towards ourselves will not only be gentle but sweetened through the Gospel, bringing life and defeating brokenness and death. Let’s Pray,
Dear God, your counsel is sweet and life-giving, may we learn to take up your ways and do as we have been instructed through your word to do: apply the gentleness of the Gospel to ourselves so we may be healed and strengthened, renewed and made whole, for this is your will for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen