“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant— though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” Ruth 2:13
A prayer to always speak kindly of others
Merciful God, so often when I think of sinful behavior, I rarely attribute my own tendency to gossip and tear down others. And yet throughout Jesus’ time here on earth he reminds us to love one another. Help me to remember to love not just with deeds but with my words. You speak so kindly of me, LORD, and I have many, many flaws. Not only do I need your help in not speaking unkindly, but also in being your servant to exalt your people. I know that a kind word is all that is needed to cure so many of our world’s ills. Guide me in controlling my lips so that they drip with kindness rather than bitterness. In Jesus’ name I lift this up to you. Amen
“The problem with youth sports is the parents,” my husband loves to say. And he’s not wrong. If you’ve never stood on the sidelines of a soccer, softball, baseball, football or any youth sport let me paint a picture. There’s the pacer – that parent that has so much anger or anxiety they can’t sit still. There’s the cheerleader parent and the coaching parent – yelling out to their kids instructions of how to play better. There’s the sideline referee – yelling at the refs for every call. The peek-a-boo parent stands off to the side trying to shield themselves from their anxiety, only peeking to check out the score or why everyone just cheered so loudly. And then you have little groups of parents huddled together gossiping.
I have been every single one of those at some point. And guess what, so has my husband. He may be hesitant to admit it but I have seen him be the actor in each of those roles.
During my youngest daughter’s last season of high school field hockey, I decided to take a different tack. I knew my mouth wanted to speak so I figured, why fight it. But instead of anything negative I would cheer positively for every girl at one point or another. Afterwards, I would seek out parents and pay their daughters’ compliments for a job well done. It’s amazing how much better I felt after games.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
I know for some, speaking kindly comes naturally (looking at you Betsy!). But I have found that not to be the norm in society. We seem to feel the need to seek out the flaw, the screw up, the mistake. “The movie was good, but I’m not too sure about that choice of an actor.” “She’s lost a lot of weight, but she really needed it didn’t she?” “He’s a good leader but I don’t like his hair.” “She always looks so nice, but of course she likes to impress people.” And on and on. The “buts” in our sentences erase any good we intended. We just need to get that extra little dig in.
“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:16
I was listening to a podcast by a well know Christian speaker. She told a story of how she would listen to other talented speakers and upon leaving start dissecting all they had done wrong. And yet, she hoped people wouldn’t do the same to her.
Speaking unkindly, gossiping, or even slandering others is sinful behavior. It is like an amoeba that slowly eats our heart and mind. And the cure is to offer the kind word. It’s not enough to remove something from our behavior, that’s only half the work. God wants us to actively love our friends, family, neighbors and strangers with kindness.
I realized that not only was I having problems speaking about others unkindly but also about myself. I discovered this while at the gym. When I would get tired and worried I wouldn’t perform well I found my inner “but” speaking – “Come on you lazy so and so, you showed up today but now get it in gear!” How many of us really need one more person saying something negative to us? And yet, how many of us are that one more person? I decided to flip the script and start saying, “Come on! I know you can do this! You are stronger than yesterday!” I’m thankful for a few less bruises on my soul.
When I head out on my errands now, I say a little prayer asking God to help me say something that brightens someone’s day. I put a sign up in my prayer room that says, “Kindness and Grace Matter.” With His help I will remove the “buts” out of my vocabulary and rest in the compliment. I’m doing that not only for others but also for myself. I will speak kindness into my own heart so that it is full. And with fullness of heart, I will spread His fruit of love and kindness.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!