“She hath opened her mouth in wisdom: and the law of clemency is on her tongue.”Prov. 31:26
Only once does Proverbs 31:10-31 mention the valiant woman speaking. Throughout the passage she is always described acting, doing, or being, but not talking. Then, finally, one sentence is dedicated to her speech. It is brief and true. When the valiant woman speaks, she speaks in wisdom and clemency, or sweetness.
Often we get swept away by those who would tell us that the best way to communicate is to say exactly what you think the moment you think it. The world is full of memes, videos, art, and all manner of self-expression that encourage this sort of mentality, but little of it is wise or sweet in any manner. It seems the smart aleck has become the sage of our day and vinegar is mistaken as honey for the soul.
What has happened to true wisdom and the law of clemency? Perhaps what should be important to us is not where these virtues have gone, but how we restore them. In a world of opinions screaming for attention, it can be hard to hear yourself, much less be heard by others. But there is another way to reach a person’s mind and soul than merely speaking. One is far more touched by actions than by words and by the way words are spoken than merely the words themselves. I suppose this is why the valiant woman is hardly ever heard but always seen! She doesn’t need to speak for others to know her true value; they see her as she is in her actions. However, if her example does not suffice, she uses words. If words are necessary, she uses wisdom and tempers it with kindness.
Christ Himself frequently used this method of teaching while here on earth. He ate with us sinners rather than shunning us. In His mercy, He told us stories to teach us God’s ways rather than condemning us. Finally, He gave His life for us. While He hung dying on the cross, unable to give us any greater example of His love by actions, He gave us the wonderful words ever spoken, “Forgive them” – when we deserved to be cast out forever. The all-knowing, all-wise Son of God opened His mouth and spoke sweet forgiveness to the world that killed Him. Who are we to use harsh words against a fellow person when God deals so kindly with us?
A true woman’s words reflect this image of Christ within her. What she says builds up and does not tear down. She speaks the truth without pride. She rebukes without haughtiness. She speaks valiantly: her mouth opens only in wisdom, and her tongue is bound to sweetness.
St. Philomena, pray for us!
Stay tuned for more in this series!
In the meantime, why not catch up on the previous Proverbs 31 posts: An Introduction to Proverbs 31, Approaching Proverbs 31: The Godly Woman, Applying Proverbs 31: The Hopeful Woman, Living Proverbs 31: The Industrious Woman, More on Proverbs 31: The Generous Woman.