Proverbs 15:1-14 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Verse 1 (NIV)
Have you ever been in an argument and suddenly lost it? I remember well listening to a couple of my kids arguing and then I thought I heard a very rude comment from one of them. I immediately jumped into the argument and in very clear language blasted the one who I thought was the offender. After a short time, I went to talk to that teenager. He asked me what I thought he had said. I was totally wrong. And my son very calmly told me he forgave me and reminded me, it would be good to make sure of what I heard, before I used my words to cut a person down. The gentle response was given by my son to me after I had blasted him for something he did not say. Indeed, a tough lesson for me.
That gentle response prevented any more hard or harsh feelings from growing deeper in complexity or in broken relationships. A gentle word, with a feather-light touch, can remove the fuse, or whatever might trigger 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 dismiss the quality of gentleness because our times have been infected with a hostile spirit, preferring confrontation, a harsh demand, and a merciless fight. On that day, I was very proud of my son and felt a huge amount of shame at my own response.
As you go about your day, do you prefer harshness and hostility, or is gentleness evident in your words and actions? Do others see that quality of Christ imitated in you?
Lord, our spirits are weary and tattered 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