Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.Proverbs 16:24 NIV
What are gracious words? The Hebrew defines them as “merciful, compassionate or soft-hearted.” Simply put, they are grace-filled, gentle words that always seek to bring healing. Even when speaking a necessarily hard word, they are not harsh. Gracious words are a honeycomb, or sweet. As a result, they bring healing.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us that we are to “speak the truth in love.” Always seeking to lovingly share truth builds character. It also makes us a most appealing representation of our Savior. Only the truth sets people free (John 8:32). Sad to say, depending on how it is spoken, truth can heal or greatly wound its recipient. Some people are not naturally gentle. We’ve undoubtedly all known at least one such person. If this is a problem for you, pray about it. Get prayer from someone you trust. Also, asks forgiveness from God and those you wound when you speak hurtful words.
The opposite can also be true. A very gentle person can have a difficult time speaking the truth for fear of offending someone. This is especially true if they have insecurity issues. If this is a problem for you like it was for me, pray about it. Get prayer from someone you trust. God longs to set people with either problem free. The first step is always honesty about your problem.
One of the most respectfully gracious gifts you can give someone is to give them your full attention as they speak. Look them in the face. Notice their facial expression. Do not be thinking about how you will answer. Do not interrupt. To make sure you understood what they were saying, repeat what they just said back to o them. Ask questions if you do not understand something they said. By being an attentive listener, you will give a knowledgeable reply. A Facebook post from a dear friend hit home. It said, “Sorry for interrupting. It’s just that I get so excited about what I want to say.” I called her up and apologized for sometimes doing it too.
Being a good listener who speaks kind words does not mean you should allow negative people to constantly complain. Remind them of all they got have to be grateful for. If that does not work, you may want to distance yourself from them. Some people do not want help, they just want to whine. They waste your time and drain your energy. They irritate you and can be discouraging. One such person motivated me to write a poem called, “I Refuse to Be a Garbage Can!” Even when going through a hard time and getting help, do not just talk about your needs, but ask how the other person is doing.
Another of the most respectfully gracious, God-pleasing actions you can do is to let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. Doing this earns God’s and people’s trust. You may want to check your schedule and get back to them. A constantly overloaded schedule will burn you out. You need downtimes. Ask God what He would have you do. Do not let people manipulate you into saying yes. For a gentle person, that can be difficult, but over time it gets easier. Ask God for His help in standing firm. If you say yes to a request for help and regret it, unless an emergency arises, keep your word.