“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”
Proverbs 24:26 (NIV)
In my experience, hearing the truth has not always been as pleasant as the anticipated kiss from a person I love. So, when I read Proverbs 24:26, I really had to stop and understand how these two events could be related.
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, in Solomon’s time, a kiss on the lips was seen as “a gesture of friendship, acceptance, respect, and reverence.” The Hebrew word for honest is nakoach, meaning plain, right, uprightness, straight. So, when I put all this together, I can see that this verse exhorts us to speak truthfully and not deceptively, and when we do this, our speech honors the other person.
For this verse to make sense in our culture, my paraphrase is: “Speaking plainly honors and respects others.” So, what does this look like in our daily lives? It means that we tell the truth, even when it means our pride will suffer. It means we encourage others even when what we have to say is not what they want to hear at first. It means our speech honors what the Bible commands. A good rule that encompasses everything the Bible says about speech is found in Ephesians 4:29:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).
Take an inventory of what you say each day. What do you talk about more than anything else? Is your speech more positive or negative? Are your words encouraging and meaningful or do you use them just to fill empty space? Do they bring peace and joy to others or do they hurt others? Are you completely truthful, or do you use your words to flatter or deceive others in order to get what you want?
Over and over throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon encourages us toward right speech, so it must be important. What would it take for you to make Ephesians 4:29 the rule for your life?