Are we the gentle answer?
Today’s Proverb: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
This verse is arguably one of the most recognized of all the proverbs. Which is why we might not give it the attention we should. Sometimes those old tried and true sayings are not given their proper due.
I wondered, do we always know when we speak a harsh word? Harsh is defined as unpleasantly rough or jarring to the senses. Are our answers or words to others rough or jarring?
We can have the best intentions to help others with our words of wisdom, exhortation, or encouragement, but if our delivery is harsh we can miss out on the opportunity to connect with the other person. Connection is so important in communication. When we approach our words with gentleness and a humble heart, those words have a chance to land softly, but land.
How do we know if our delivery is missing the mark? If we have an ounce of discernment, we’ll know if we’ve angered or offended or hurt someone. If we think we have done this, then most likely we did. If we sense it, then ask the person. If we have, apologize and try to communicate in a gentler way.
If it’s obvious they are offended or angry, but won’t admit it and give us a chance to rephrase, it might be best to try another time. Which brings up an important point, if we’re the one offended or angry, admit it then work to resolve it with the other person, when possible.
A tone or style of communication we use can be effective for one person, but might be too much for someone else. We are responsible for our own willingness to be a positive influence or a negative one. It’s our choice.
There’s another aspect of speaking too harshly we want to be cautious of: we can cause someone to stumble. Well meaning friends have advised me forcefully and I discerned no sense of humility. My situation seemed trite to them and their matter-of-fact comments crushed me. I know I have done the same to others and I am ashamed and deeply sorry.
JESUS SAID IT–NOT ME! MATTHEW 18:5-6
“…And whoever welcomes one such child in My name, welcomes Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who trust in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea!”
We can be the gentle answer that makes a difference in someone’s life. We can support an environment of love and hope for change. We can do these things so that what we say is as important as how we say it.