The first line of King Solomon’s Proverbs 15 always makes me stop in my tracks.
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 NKJV
The reason this verse gives me pause is because I have read it so many times, yet so often have such a difficult time remembering to use it. It is a simple concept with so much truth, yet can be very hard to remember in times of upset.
We spend much of our day interacting with others. From time to time, each of us is subject to our own internal pressures, stresses, fatigues, and frustrations. These can result in a burst of negative emotion directed towards others, giving a sharp edge to social interactions. These feelings may express themselves in some form of disrespect towards another, such as a disapproving scowl, a criticism, the blast of a car horn or some other form of rude behavior.
How should we respond when others treat us this way? Solomon tells us to use as soft or gentle of a response as we can muster. If we do this, the offence or its repercussions will often go away.
Humbly resisting the temptation to strike back or get even will often defuse a situation, and a spirit of peace can quickly return to all. An angry response will often escalate the problem, causing much greater internal turmoil that can linger for a whole day or longer.
If we are the culprit who has made another a victim of our own internal frustrations or have failed in our attempts to restrain or tone down an angry response to them, there is a solution. If possible, we promptly but gently admit that we were wrong. After doing this, we make amends as best we can for our angry outburst or offence.
If it is not possible to atone for our actions, we redouble our efforts to use a softer response the next time we become agitated. In the meantime, we make restitution by doing something positive for someone else.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV
Where do I need to implement Solomon’s wise principle of using a soft answer to turn away wrath in my life?
Lord, guide my thinking today, and help me to use wisdom when tensions arise. Amen.