Tuesday, August 1 | A Gentle Answer
Read Proverbs 15:1–4
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Words can be so life-giving! When someone speaks words of encouragement to us, our spirits tend to rise and we feel empowered and light. When someone speaks words of love to us, we feel valued and safe. Yet, words can also be so destructive. And sometimes, harsh words sneak out of our mouths before we can catch them. Other times, we say harsh words on purpose. Think of the last time you had an argument with someone. Chances are, someone said a harsh word and tempers flared or one person was hurt. Gentle words are a gift in the midst of an argument. They are a surprise. Gentle words diffuse arguments and soften hearts. God calls us to be different from the rest of the world—a light in the darkness. In a world in which harsh words are the norm, are we, followers of Jesus, any different?
- How are you doing when it comes to your words? In what situations recently have you used them to diffuse tension and bring life? In what situations recently have you used them to stir up controversy or to hurt? Is there someone you need to apologize to and from whom you need to seek forgiveness?
- What circumstances or relationships tend to lead you into speaking harshly with others? (For example, is there a particular subject that triggers you? Are there certain people who bring harshness out in you?) Spend a moment listening for what you sense God inviting you to do about those circumstances or relationships?
God, help me to be aware of the words I use and how I use them. I want only to build people up, to encourage them, and to bring gentleness and respect to conversations. Guide me in knowing when I am more apt to respond harshly, and convict my heart when I run afoul of gentleness with my words. May I be a person who people see as a gentle presence—gentle in words and gentle in spirit. Amen.
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