A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Today we might paraphrase our verse here to say that “a gentle answer defuses wrath.” An argument can easily escalate to the point where a single harsh word can cause an explosion of anger. If that happens, the blast can deal out sorrow and endless regret.
But a gentle word, with a feather-light touch, can remove the fuse, or whatever might trigger such an explosion. And those who were arguing can step back, take a breath, and avoid incalculable damage to their relationship.
In a passage dealing with trouble between believers, Paul advises, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). He lists gentleness among the qualities with which we should clothe ourselves: “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). And the apostle Peter says that a gentle spirit “is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4).
Many people today scorn the quality of gentleness because our times have been infected with a belligerent spirit, preferring confrontation, the harsh demand, the merciless fight.
As you go about your day, do you prefer harshness and belligerence? Or is gentleness evident in your words and actions? Do others see that quality of Christ imitated in you?
Lord, our spirits are weary from the warfare of this world. We long for your gentleness. Transform our rough and harsh hearts, and give us a gentle and quiet spirit. Amen.
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