Proverbs 16:21-23

The one who is wise in heart is called discerning,
and kind speech increases persuasiveness.
Insight is like a life-giving fountain to the one who possesses it,
but folly leads to the discipline of fools.
A wise person’s heart makes his speech wise
and it adds persuasiveness to his words.

This is the first time (that I can remember) that we’ve heard the term wise in heart. We’ve heard all kinds of ways that wisdom has been referred to when it comes to understanding and knowledge – things that require the use of your mind, intellect and logic. But this is the first mention of wisdom also being a matter of the heart.

It makes sense. Wisdom does not just involve intellect and making good decisions. Wisdom also requires that we use our heart.

Especially when speaking. I’m guessing you’ve probably experienced someone who didn’t use their heart when they were speaking to you. I have. It can be painful. Sure, sometimes we need to hear it. But, it seemed to come from a cold, unfriendly place within the person who spoke it.

What we learn today is that kind speech increases our persuasiveness. If we want to be able to persuade people, we have to speak with a kind heart. Wisdom is not relegated to one part of our being. Wisdom is supposed to be intertwined with our entire existence.

WARNING!!! We should not seek to persuade and manipulate people. We’ve heard that in Proverbs as well. It is not our job to try to manipulate and persuade people into being the kind of people we think they ought to be. But, there are times when we have words we need to say.

Sometimes, someone you love is doing something they shouldn’t do. They are developing a pattern of bad behavior and it appears they don’t even realize it. They’re inching closer and closer to some sort of disaster, but because they’re so close to the situation, the don’t see the edge of the cliff right behind them. They’re walking backwards toward the cliff and you are at a distance where you can see the danger approaching.

Sometimes, you need to throw caution to the wind, and run at them screaming and yelling – doing everything you can to try to catch them. But only when they’re about to fall off.

When they are several steps away from the edge, the best way to talk them into doing the right thing is with wise words that flow through your heart. You don’t just throw logic at them, you throw heart and soul with the logic as well. You love them through the words that you’re speaking and you speak the words in a loving way.

When you speak this way, your words can be a life-giving fountain to you and to those you save from destruction.