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?