A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the hearts of fools are not upright.
8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
9 The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
the one who hates correction will die.
It is repeated multiple times in Proverbs 15 that the words we say and hear are important. I remember talking with a foolish mother who was lamenting the behavior of her son. “I only told him I was going to leave once. Now he seems anxious that I could leave at any moment, and he has been acting up.” Of course he has, the words that she said tapped into a child’s worse fears. Unfortunately that mother still didn’t understand the import of her speech. A rush of passion does not excuse and angry tirade. Growing up, my father used to drag up all the muck from the past that he could find and sling it at the family during an argument. It felt cathartic for him, but the rest of us went around with the muck of his words still stuck to us and eating away at us. The way that a godly person responds to conflict is with gentle, measured words. Do you explode once in a while and crush others’ spirits? Do you blame them and accuse them of being too thin skinned? I get passionate about issues sometimes and my words can sound harsh. I could be more careful. I don’t think I launch into personal attacks to prove my point. Use words to talk truthfully about a point of conflict, but avoid talking globally about a person. It is okay to say, “I don’t like it when you leave the socks on the floor. Please could you pick them up.” It is not okay to say, “You are such a disgusting pig! The way you leave your dirty socks on the floor!” The second option reduces the person to something less than human.
Do you have the courage to listen to how other people think you should grow? It is being able to listen rather than having to make your point that marks the pathway of the wise.
- What can be the effect of words?
- What kind of words should one seek to hear?
- How does one change the kind of words that naturally come from our mouths?
- How do you resolve verbal disagreement?
- How does the Bible resolve verbal disagreements?
1. From this passage, words can turn away wrath, stir up anger, show the heart, bring healing, life or growth, crush spirits, and spread knowledge. Words are powerful. Words are easily said, but never easily taken back. Words live on–sometimes–even, past the person who said them. Words are recycled and reused, either to bring peace or destruction.
2. A person should seek to hear words that edify and build up and words of truth, wisdom and knowledge. The Word of God would be a good start.
3. One changes the words that come from his or her mouth by changing their heart. Honestly, this is a difficult task. It is best to leave it to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit by the will of God. Yep. So, here is step one to changing your heart: know God and receive his ways and his thoughts, which are higher than your ways and your thoughts. Steps to follow include transforming your mind (so that you do not conform to this world) by indoctrinating yourself with the truth of God.
4. I resolve verbal disagreement differently with different people. I am usually blessed to be able to see “the big picture” and, therefore, do not freak out at people around me when we see “details” differently. However, when people personally attack me, I do not relent. I try to show error in their logical argument or highlight the personal attack and bring the conversation back to the facts. Hopefully, I will not let the sun go down on my anger.
5. The Bible resolves verbal disagreements with great measures of grace and love, while gently guiding others to the truth and humbly listening to correction.
Your words strike a chord in the heart of a man who has been faced with that situation all too often. i have tripped and fell many more times than I can count (or would wish to). In the heat of athletic competition I let my words slip (and thereby let my testimony as a follower of Christ go as well) against other players, coaches, and referees. This was a point of consternation for me as a teenager. Exactly what you stated at the end of your post rings so true. We are making people sub-human when we debase them in a verbal tirade. All for what? To feel like we accomplished something? That we got the message across? It really is to fill the hurt inside of us, however momentary. The problem is that we don’t think before we speak often enough. Word have the tendency to gush forth without reservation on the hearer while that is completely unnecessary. And although I was told this over and over, it did not sink in until I figured this out for myself. So if you or someone around you is struggling with this, don’t keep hammering the same line. It only made sense to me when the Lord freed me from the lash of the tongue against other people. Pray for them. If you are struggling, don’t try the latest that you read in the most recent Christian article on taming the tongue. Pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you and allow you to be released from poor word choices.