A Gentle Answer
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
The spirit of gentleness is Christlike and it is something that everyone enjoys receiving and it is something we should also enjoy giving. Gentleness is made known to others through attitudes and actions that exude: kindness, tenderness, and calmness. When given and received in a biblical manner, gentleness can honor God, evoke peace in turmoil, and cause our relationships to improve.
The book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon, is the book of wisdom and reading and adhering to its biblical principles will result in wisdom, discernment, and discipline. In Proverbs 15:1, gentleness is encouraged in communication. Solomon, by the Holy Spirit, instructed readers that an answer given in gentleness turns away wrath. Think about a time when you harshly asked a question, made a statement to someone (critical or accusatory), and you were spoken to in a calm, kind, and loving tone. Even if you were initially irritated and angry, the gentle response of the other person made it more difficult to remain as irritable and as angry as you originally were. The other person’s response didn’t necessarily have to agree with what you said or be a result of cowering in fear of your actions or anger, but the other person demonstrated genuine gentleness that demonstrated love and compassion for what currently concerned you.
Contrary to a gentle answer, Solomon went on to write, that a word spoken harshly stirs anger. Think of the same scenario regarding your anger and irritability but the person responded and spoke with the same or even greater intensity of your anger. The anger that you originally had has now been fueled and has increased. Now both you and the other person are focusing on how the other person’s responses made you feel and neither of you could care less about what is troubling the other. The only concern at the time is the offense that both of you are feeling (Proverbs 19:11), and neither is speaking the truth in love but spewing personal attacks that may not be related to the original topic at hand. Most likely the main issue is now an afterthought, the conversation is the opposite of gentleness, and is also filled with harsh words spoken hastily that will later linger with regret.
As we read this verse, we understand that disagreements will occur but responses to disagreements can either work towards lessening or dissolving anger or work towards fueling, increasing, or stirring up anger. Responding with a gentle answer doesn’t mean that we will not have disagreements or that when we have disagreements we must agree with everything in order to be gentle or to keep peace. A gentle answer involves: focusing on bringing honor to God with our responses, genuine and sacrificial compassion for what is concerning the other person at the time, and speaking the truth in love. Remember we are also affected by our choices and we are also developing habits that will increase our tendency and frequency to respond in either direction. Choose how you will respond and choose to grow to become more like Christ by using the opportunity to stir up gentleness, rather than anger.
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