Gentle Words: Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1.  (King James Version).

On the radio one morning, the following story was told about a woman on her way to work, who had been rear ended at a set of traffic lights.  She was furiously angry, and got out of the car and berated the other driver in language that was colorful and disparaging.  The police arrived as she was in mid rant, and to her surprise, she was taken back to the station, and held there while they made some phone calls.  Eventually, a young officer came out to tell her they would be letting her go, as it appeared that the car she was driving was in fact her car.  She was astonished to realize that the officers had thought she was a thief, and asked why they would have thought such a thing.  Her shame was profound when the young constable said that when they saw the fish sticker on the back of her car, and listened to her invective,, they were sure she must have stolen the car, as surely no Christian woman would behave in such a way.

This story had me recall a time I had watched from the sidewalk as another motorist backed into my parked car, right in front of me.  I marched over to the car to tell him exactly what I thought of his driving skills, starting with “You just hit my car.”  He looked at me, and said “I did hit your car, I’m so terribly sorry, I just wasn’t watching properly.  Lets look at the damage, and I’ll give you my name and number in case you need to get anything repaired.”  Not surprisingly, my anger evaporated, because of his soft and gracious answer.  My wrath truly was turned away.

It was an interesting lesson for me, and one I was grateful for.  I know first hand the wisdom of this particular proverb.  Dealing gently with other people is not a sign of weakness.  Our words have the power to do great harm and hurt, and those hurts can stay with us for a surprisingly long time.  If someone is using grievous words to hurt you, it can be so hard to not respond in kind, but try instead to give the soft answer, you may be surprised by what can happen.

PRAYER:  Dear Father, thank you for the wisdom of your word.  Help me to respond graciously, to be prepared to give the soft answer in times of conflict, and not use my words to hurt.  AMEN.

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