She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
At my late wife’s memorial service two years ago, I read aloud from the end of the book of Proverbs, including the verse above. As people came up to speak about my beloved wife, everyone could see how she truly did live out those verses. Her students and colleagues, the people she counseled, the folks she knew through her social work, and even the parents of children she had fostered, they all spoke of her wisdom and compassion. Oh, we joked about some of her less-than-saintly attributes, but the great affection and respect displayed by all truly spoke about how her life had sent positive ripples into the lives of so many others.
My wife did not know her Bible particularly well. To be honest, she relied on me for that, but she was still a woman of great faith. And where others were constantly sweating over the details of how to live a godly life, my dear wife simply lived it by following those simple commandments from our Savior:
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the first and great commandment.
39 “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus exhorted us to live out the love of God through our love for others, and that is exactly what my wife did with her life. She was an extremely intelligent and literate woman, but she didn’t rely on book smarts to see her through. She relied instead on prayer and compassion, on following our Lord by loving God and loving others. We could all learn from her example. I sure did.
In the verse above, we can see that when we speak, we ought to speak with wisdom – a wisdom gained by seeking God in all things. He alone is good and wise, and He will give His wisdom freely to all who ask it with faith and integrity. (James 1:5-8) Of course, speaking with wisdom doesn’t mean we won’t offend anybody. In fact, if we are presenting the wisdom of God, there’s a pretty good chance we will offend everybody who has enslaved themselves to sin and immorality. But if we speak the gospel with truth and love, then God’s Word will do the work, bringing peace and faith to those willing to accept Christ. The opposite, of course, is that if we speak without thinking, speak with our own “wisdom” instead of God’s, then we won’t be accomplishing God’s purposes nor sharing God’s love.
What is this “law of kindness”? It is compassion and faith, true heartfelt empathy and caring. The law of kindness is not to make a spectacle of publicly giving to others, nor even to give with some expectation of reward. (Matthew 6:1-4) Instead, we are to speak and to give and to share simply because we are moved by the love of God to do so.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We are not saved BY good works, we are saved FOR good works. That is the law of kindness, the law of the love of God lived out through lives saved by the grace of God. No deeds you or I could ever do would save us from the wrath of God we deserve for living sinful lives, and yet God offers us salvation through one means: faith. And when we are moved by faith to believe in Christ as our risen Lord, then we can truly move mountains and accomplish great deeds.
As a teacher and counselor and mother, my beloved wife was in a unique position to share the love of God through her words, and she spoke with compassion and grace. Yes, she had her bad days when she let her own wisdom get the better of her, but she always remembered what God had done for her, and so she returned again and again to one simple commandment, one simple thought.
1 John 4:10-11
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Beloved friends and family, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go about our day today and tomorrow and every day, let us remember to love always. Love is the greatest wisdom that God shares with us, the greatest truth of the gospel, the very heart and character of God. Yes, He will judge and He will condemn those who do not come to Him in faith. But God’s love is so deep, His compassion so great, that He sent His only Son to die for us on the Cross, so that by believing in Him we might all be saved. (John 3:16-17) So, let us be so wise and kind and loving as He is, loving God and loving one another, so that His will is done here on earth just as it is in heaven.
Lord God in heaven, I thank You for sharing Your great wisdom with us through Your Word. No one is so wise and loving and powerful as You, and yet You have loved even the worst of us so much that You gave the life of Your only Son so that we might live. Dear Lord, take what You will of my life. Teach me to give so freely, to love so much, that only Your wisdom and Your kindness speak through my life. Amen.