Wise words from the book of Proverbs

A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger, Proverbs 15. 1

The natural thing to do when someone is angry with you is to reply in anger: yet how often we regret the words once they are out of our mouths.The tongue, despite being such a small part of the body, has an influence very much inverse to its size. How many wars, conflicts, divorces, suicides, divisions and distresses have been caused by angry words and unruly tongues!

One writer has said, ‘We yield to irritation, retort upon our neighbour, have recourse to selfjustification, insist upon the last word, say all that we could say … neither party gives up an atom of the will. Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints, and what a fire is kindled’. It is almost as though we would rather lose a friend than lose face.

How happy must he be who never regrets the swift retort, the angry response, the sarcastic dig, the instinctive bite of the tongue. The sign of a wise person is not his or her business acumen, nor is it extensive knowledge of a subject. It is the ability to control the tongue. The ‘soft answer’ which turns away wrath – the kind reply or the gentle comment, in other words – is like water that quenches a flame, defusing a potential row.‘Grievous words’, however – the nasty, unkind reaction – are like oil that causes a fire to blaze all the more.

We, who in this modern world claim Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Saviour are encouraged to be compassionate and understanding to one another, ‘not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but [on the contrary] blessing’, 1 Pet. 3. 9. After all, our Lord is our great Example in this, for when He was reviled, He ‘reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously’, 1 Pet. 2. 23. Think before you reply; it will make all the difference. It is far better to walk away from an altercation regretting what the other person said, rather than regretting what you said.

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