The Right Answer

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 15:1 NLT

Dr. Bob Miller

Dr. Bob Miller

Words are powerful. Moses tells us that God “spoke” the world into existence.

The carefully chosen word can calm conflict. The wrecking word can wage war. Words can hurt or heal. They can agitate or they can appease. Pearl Strachan Hurd said, “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”

Solomon encourages us to use a gentle response when anger rages. With a decisively chosen word we can divert danger. Our objective becomes deflecting anger before it becomes destructive.

It’s being as “cool as a cucumber” and not “blowing your stack”. A few verses later, Solomon reminds us, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” (Prov 15:18 ESV). The more heated an argument, the more harsh our words can be.

We work toward a response and not a reaction.

A Good Answer. The wise king reminds us, “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry”. (Prov 25:11 MSG). The good word is like “apples of gold in settings of silver”. Choosing the correct word with a calm mind is our best consideration. It becomes a good word, not a grieving word. It becomes an answer of restoration and not rejection. Once words are used, they can’t be undone. Jodi Picoukt wrote, “Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”

A Gracious Answer. Ann Voskamp writes, “Anger is contagious. So is grace.” Paul reminds us, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Col 4:6 NLT). Words of grace are words of goodness. As recipients of grace we are to reflect grace . . . in our walk, in our ways and in our words. Solomon writes, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov 16:24 ESV)

A Gentle Answer. Gill writes, “Mild words, gentle expressions, delivered with kindness and tenderness, humility and submission; these will work upon a man’s passions, weaken his resentments, and break and scatter the storm of wrath raised in his breast.” A gentle word brings good wellness. Proverbs tells us, “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov 15:4 NLT). Life giving words leave a lasting legacy of love.

James gives some very critical and constructive comments, “If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.” (Jam 1:26 NET). The psalmist grasped the great responsibility of good, gracious and gentle words. He wrote, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps 141:3 ESV)

May God give us good and gentle words of grace, may He guard what we say and may His words define us.


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