A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh
word stirs up anger.
word stirs up anger.
I was having a very good day when out of the blue the woman in front of me sideswiped the checker at the grocery store with her reckless mouth. It’s truly like being run over by a freight train when someone lets loose all of their thoughts and they don’t put a filter on their words. Having no care for others people’s feelings, the customer in front of me really let the checker have it with both barrels. I was first shocked and then went straight to angry and then to prayer. Asking God how I could help the poor underpaid checker, who does not make the rules, I wanted to offer her gentleness.
When it was my turn, I smiled at the teary eyed checker and gave her a sympathetic look and then told her how well she handled the mean spirited woman. I knew it was God using me and I watched her begin to smile and then we both began laughing over the silliness of the previous customer. Laughter is the best medicine sometimes!
Because we all have the power over our words, the Bible talks about how we use them hundreds of times throughout both Old and New Testaments. And God encourages us through the writers to use them wisely, with gentleness and kindness.
I used to have a relationship with a woman who seemed to delight in putting me down, showing me my shortcomings. We all know people like that. They have a low self esteem so tear others down in order to build themselves up. I ended the relationship, but before I did, I wore a rubber band as a bracelet when I was with her. When her words became unkind, I snapped the band to remind myself to not respond so I could avoid an angry argument. I got tired of the sting and realized that she needed a victim to beat up and it wasn’t going to be me. Walking away is like a gentle answer sometimes.
How can we practice gentle answers and speech? One way it to purposely set out to do it.
*Take a walk through any grocery store and look for lonely people. As you walk by, smile and say hello. People don’t do that much anymore.
*When you hear a checker being mistreated by a grouchy customer, make sure your words to him or her are kind ones.
*When someone attacks you, snap that rubber band and find the kindest response that you can honestly give.
*Ignore the argumentative and negative people that pop into your life. Many of them love to argue. When you walk away from such conversations, there is no one left for them to argue with.
*The same goes for people with critical spirits. Walk away from having words that will just bring more harm than help.
*Regularly practice using kind words such as thank you, you did great, I admire you, I like being around you, I understand, and how can I help you?
It’s not that God won’t use us in the lives of people with problematic attitudes: He will and often does. However, some people seem to thrive on harsh and harmful words and they can’t get very far with you when you aren’t there to listen. You can diffuse their talking time bomb of a mouth by your absence.
Lord, help me to be the kind of friend that builds people up. May I keep a gentle answer on my tongue rather than a harsh one. May I treat everyone the way I want to be treated.
Trusting in Him,