In my quiet time Saturday I was following my typical format: ACTS (Adore/praise Him, Confess sin/repent, Thank Him, Supplicate/petition for self and intercede for others). I got to the C part and in a self-righteous moment felt like I should pray through the first twelve verses of Proverbs 3 for someone. It was out of order, I thought. After all, I was in C not S. As I began reading these verses, I realized how God had led me to those verses at just that time. I noted some words in my journal that really stood out to me as I read through. I put them in red here. Read through these verses of Proverbs 3:
I am not to let them leave me. I am to bind them around my neck. I pictured that as if they were engraved on a necklace. According to this passage I am to write them on my heart also. What that said to me Saturday was that not only should kindness and truth be evident outwardly in how I live and deal with others, but they should be the outward product of their dwelling inwardly, within my heart. I must put them in my heart, allow them to be true parts of my nature. It starts in my heart. Kindness and truth need to find their homes in my heart so my heart beats in time with God’s and my nature is to produce what my heart is pumping through my veins: kindness and truth. They go together. Furthermore, they need to be genuine; not fake for show, but the real deal.
It’s easy to speak kindly to someone’s face, but boy, behind their backs we let our real feelings rip. That type of speaking kindly is FAKE. It’s not kind. It’s not truthful. I want my life to be one of truthful kindness. When a situation needs to be addressed, I want to speak truth into the situation rather than compromising the truth for the sake of keeping the peace and permeating abuse, manipulation, and lies. But in tandem with the truth spoken is the attitude in which it is spoken. Kindness needs to accompany the truth. There are some situations where the truth spoken may just be a waste of time or may serve to fuel the anger of another. I’m not talking about truth as the Word here, I’m just talking about a simple fact that may spark the debate of the century based on the temperament of the one being addressed. It may even be the attitude of always having to have the last word or one-upping another even if it’s the truth. It may not be kindness that is prevailing with the truth. It could be the hope of stirring up strife in order to speak the truth.
What happened after meditating on these (and I’m not done, btw) was one test after another over the rest of the weekend. A comment was made and I had to step back and I had to shrug it off. After turning aside, I thought of at least 10 things I wished I had said. None of those things were with the intent of speaking kindness. It was simply wanting to satisfy this insane need to have the last word in that situation. That was just one of several situations where God kept pushing me to be in situations where I was having to practice kindness and truth. I kept having to go outside to the porch with my Bible in hand and looking at these verses again and again. Did it really say this? Must I really do this, Lord?
There is a difficult balance to this. I want my responses to whatever comes to be truthful and kind in front (face to face) and behind (when I get away and rehash). Better yet, I’d like to get to the point where I just don’t care about rehashing anymore. Kindly speak the truth and give it no more thought or gripe.
And so what began as praying Scripture for another turned into praying that Scripture through just the first 3 verses as I confessed my missing the mark in this area of my life lately. It wasn’t out of order. I was out of order. God led me to just the right verses at just the right time to deal with some issues of sin that I was trying to overlook. I was busy seeing the speck in the other’s eye rather than the plank in my own.