Of Butter and War, Oil and Swords.

His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Psalm 55:21 (NIV)

I’m not a violent person. 

Disclaimer: if my stash of Peanut M&Ms goes missing I am known to get downright testy. But not violent. 

I’ve never considered taking anyone’s life. My Smith and Wesson and pepper spray are merely at the ready for self-defense. 

I’ve never had any inkling to join the military and have little interest in things of war aside from the study of our nation’s history or a memorable war movie. 

Tender hearted toward the suffering, I cringe at violence. Within minutes of hearing the news my heart clenches and I get angry. Or sad.

Why can’t we all just be nice to one another and get along? 

And can it start with…me? 

Scripture reveals the deceitfulness of slick and buttery words and false flattery when the heart is contemplating harm. Or worse.

Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet. Proverbs 29:5

Am I spreading nets unaware? Worse, fully aware? 

The power and gift of words. By them, Jesus brought down the lofty (John 19:11), healed the sick (Matthew 8:13 for starters), silenced the storm (Mark 4:39), taught His followers (Matthew 5:1-12), and silenced the demons (Matthew 8:28-32). He always used words for the Father’s glory and for my good.

What God desires in the inmost part of my soul is truth, a transformation from the inside out. 

David knew this:

What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Psalm 51:6 (The Message)


Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 (NIV)

Which makes me realize a few things.

~I need to give thought to my thoughts. At some point it’s likely my heart’s ramblings will spill over. Am I nursing resentment or praise? What will be the outcome if my thoughts were audible? Will they bless or curse the receiver?

~I need to maintain humility. A willingness to offer our words to God for holy editing will result in far better outcomes.

~ I need to check my motives. When I feel an overwhelming urge to say something, even a simple compliment or praise, it’s good practice to stop and ask, “Why? What’s driving the urge?” Am I buttering up the listener for my own good? May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue. Psalm 12:3 (NIV) Am I looking to engage in verbal warfare? 

Given that nothing of my heart is hidden from God and that He’s in on every conversation, may we use the gift of words for the good of the hearer.

How do you keep your words from being buttery smooth while also working to bless the hearer?


  1. Margaret says:

    Good reminder that even a compliment can be a sign of a “flattering” tongue, which doesn’t please the Fathrr of Truth!

    • Mary Felkins says:

      As always, I’ve got to check the heart motive. Sometimes I hesitate to praise for fear it’ll come across as false flattery when, in fact, it was an opportunity to encourage another. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. As always, great reminders, Mary!
    Thanks for sharing

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