Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
I knew that look.
It was the look of a man that was not going to back down. He had it already settled that there was going to be a fight and courage was rising to makes sure he won. I hadn’t said anything against him, his wife, or his kids, or even his character. It was his church that he was defending and he was going to make dead sure that I would never say anything against his church ever again.
Such was the case with a man I had met years ago, who was clinging to the hope that his church, the right church, was going to earn him the right to enter into Heaven.
One of the great diffusers in any argument is finding common ground. With him, it was the church he attended. I had gone there as well and found that my own testimony was similar to his own.
I shared how I wrestled with the same truth that seemed to incense him so. The choice became not what I trusted, but whom.As I shared more scripture, I could see his anger abating, and his soul softening.
I think the last straw was when I asked; “Would you bet an eternity in Hell against what you believe about your church when the Bible says that it is Christ and Christ alone?”
His heart softened enough and the door was finally open for him to accept Jesus Christ and His payment for sin as his own.
You see, when we have the fruit of the Spirit – temperance – we can answer the way that benefits the hearer and ultimately returns to us as peaceable fruit. To answer softly is not just in volume, but, in spirit and emphasis.
When you’ve seen wrath unleashed, it is almost funny to see it turned away when we refuse to engage. A person’s wrath can cause such damage, heartache, and pain. It can leave lasting marks on a child’s life when let loose by a parent. It can harm a marriage when wrath takes up hurtful words that damage their character and cut deeply to the core.
In Ephesians, we are admonished to not allow such things to ever come out of our mouth.
Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I am convicted that such things as would come out of my mouth should first edify; or build up those who are within the sound of my voice. Much of the rhetoric we hear from the world is increasingly negative, and destructive to our soul. We must find a way to block it from ever entering, and counter it with that which is good to the use of edifying.
Then, we are to minister grace to the hearers. You and I do not possess grace, so, we cannot dispense or disperse it to anyone. We must get it from God to give it.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
When I first saw this verse, I thought it was to get grace for me. But the gentle, patient, and longsuffering Spirit of God revealed to my heart that it did not say:
“…that we may obtain mercy, and find grace FOR help in time of need.”
No, it says:
“…that we may obtain mercy, and find grace TO help in time of need.”
When the softness of my answer turns their wrath (AND mine) away; then, I can minister to them as God would lead, guide, and direct. Often, our own anger is in need of departure before we could ever think of ministering to someone.
When you and I can teach and train our spirit to respond with kindness, respond with softness, or respond with love; we can feel our own emotion assuaging.
Our enemy watches to see what it is that ‘gets our goat’, and then proceeds to create situation and circumstance that will unleash a tirade. Then, he stands back and accuses us to God for not following biblical principles to keep our spirit and our tongue. James tells us about that two and a half ounce pice of hell in our mouth.
James 3:5-6 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
Oh, the power it wields and the damage it can do. James tells us plainly:
James 3:8 “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
This whole mess started when I allowed my heart to hear, see, and feel the wrong emotions that lead to offense, that led to anger, that led to wrath. The soft answer was first needed to be spoken to MY heart before I could ever respond to anyone in the manner that would please God.
Recognize the danger and place the needed barriers that will keep us from unleashing the beast of wrath on those closest to us.