In Proverbs 11:17, we are reminded that our soul is nourished when we are kind, but we destroy ourselves when we are cruel. Proverbs 11:17 is a verse by which to live.

With so much apprehension, uncertainty, and turmoil in our country, we must live out this verse. When we choose kind words and show kind actions to others, our soul is nourished.

Right now, you might be at odds with your neighbor over politics or differing viewpoints, but if you choose to treat them unkindly because their thoughts are different, then your unkindness is not hurting anyone but you. Scripture stresses that you destroy yourself when you are cruel.

There is far too much cruelty in this world without our adding to it. When we choose to show kindness to people who are different, when we decide not to argue over politics or philosophies, not only do we thwart adding to the turmoil, we nourish our soul.

I have friends who are entirely different from me, but we are friends despite our dissimilarities. They teach me so much about life, and these lessons nourish my soul. When I choose to accept the truth about me, good or bad and allow that truth to transform me for the better, my soul is nourished.

Galatians 5:14 reminds us that the whole law is fulfilled in loving neighbor like self. Before we are short with someone, or return insult for insult, consider how you would like to be treated.

There have been times I had to choose to smile at someone being nasty with me. My actions nourished my soul, and the other person was left dumbfounded. There have even been occasions where the other person would come to me and apologize, finding nourishment for their soul.

Proverbs 18:21 stresses that both life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. I love to speak life-giving words. I like to be kind. I want my soul to be nourished.

As my soul becomes more robust, I can show kindness, even to the most unlovable people. As I can show love and compassion to others, a peculiar thing begins to happen, even the most unloving people start to have a softening of the heart.

They, too, begin to show kindness; they also begin to benefit from having their soul nourished. They start to deal with others more softly; thus, birthing a new cycle of soul nourishment, and the old self-destructive tyranny ends.

This year has gotten off to a rocky start, but we can choose to be the agents of change.

Show kindness, speak kindness, be kind, and allow these actions to nourish your soul.

As your soul becomes more robust, watch how it begins to change the world around you—one life at a time.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com