“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly…
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit…
The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools…
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention…
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!..
Gracious words are pure…
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things…
The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
and good news refreshes the bones…
Humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:1-2,4,7,18,23,26b,28,30,33b
Soft answers go a long way in communicating, and a gentle voice quiets the noisiest of rooms and souls. Rough and harsh spit and scratch before words are ever received, and so aggravate and disturb that they defeat any intention at a message other than angst. But gentleness soothes, and readies the ears for all that is to follow. The enemy delights in destroying constructive and uplifting communication, so we must be vigilant. No matter what we mean to convey, a mild manner will smooth the wings of our words for all goodness to be received.
What arouses turbulence in us that foments harsh words? Can we not let go of the fact that we cannot control circumstances, or another’s choices? Are we so competitive for attention, or defensive to prove ourselves right, that we turn friend or loved one into contestant by insisting on one-upping in word and volume? Does holding onto my rights render me unable to converse with reason and calm? Adjust focus! “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
And why are we so prickly? Why do I have to take personally every slight, false accusation, or verbal misstep? How would it change my stress level and tone of voice if I chose not to let things and people bother me? If I decided that another’s cattiness or bullheadedness or inattention can be met with graciousness and patience? Any reproach that falls on me has fallen on my Christ, and He bore the agonizing weight with unending love and perfect peace. (Isaiah 53:3-5)
Maybe it’s frenzy and busy that rile us away from calm conversation. Do we snap when interrupted, fret with impatience, or sigh at ineptitude? Do we castigate with judgment, or agitate with worry? If my agenda, in my time, my way, is my goal, I will absolutely meet frustration. But if I turn anxiety over in prayer, and verbalize thankfulness and trust instead of demands, God’s peace will flood heart and mind and make its way to tongue. (Philippians 4:6-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
How might we speak in such a way our hearers are refreshed? Enlightened? Uplifted? Consoled? How can I adjust my tone and volume to ‘gentle,’ so the love of Jesus is heard? (Proverbs 12:25; 18:4; 1 Corinthians 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Father, in everything You have asked me to speak, may I so communicate that Your gentleness is evident to all. (Philippians 4:5)