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  • Shawn Thornton

We Need More Gentle Answers

Thursday - October 15th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 15:1-33


A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

My mother suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a car accident when she was 14 years of age. She dealt with physical, emotional, and mental challenges for the rest of her life. When my parents were young, my dad did not always know how to deal with mom's emotional outbursts. Something simple that happened or was said could cause her to be caught up in a fit of rage. Often, she would scream and use vulgarities. When mom's anger rose quickly, dad would meet her rage and harsh words with more rage and harsh words. Dad's attempts to calm, correct, or counter mom failed miserably. They both just escalated the intensity of the argument and the anger.

As a child, I saw the reality of the second half of Proverbs 15:1 being lived out. "A harsh word stirs up anger." Each time my dad met my mom's anger with more harsh words, the level of bitterness between them rose exponentially. Often rage increases rage. But, the first part of the proverb indicates it does not have to be that way. Humanly speaking, rage increases rage. But, God has a different plan. "A gentle answer turns away wrath."

The challenge for us involves meeting harsh words with a gentle answer. Everything in our flesh wants to meet harsh words with even harsher words. The more we become like Jesus, the more we are empowered to respond to angry words in a Christlike way. When we respond in a gracious, gentle way, furious wrath gets diffused. "A gentle answer turns away wrath."

When I was a teenager, my dad's response to my mom radically changed. Mom spent several months in a mental hospital after she had an emotional and violent breakdown in our home. Dad told my brother, Troy, and I that things would be different. We would not be allowed to argue with mom or try to confront her when she had a fit of rage. He said he would be responding to her differently, too. To my surprise, dad did just that. While he was not perfect at it, you could tell he worked hard to respond with a gentle answer when mom got very upset. It worked. Mom would complain that he was trying to be nice, but it did bring the level of intensity way down.

We have to be willing to step back and be the ones who diffuse rather than increase the level of anger. Ask God's spirit to remind you of Proverbs 15:1 the next time you find yourself in a situation where you could easily add to the rage rather than diffuse it. Memorize Proverbs 15:1 and concentrate on it when you are tempted to raise the tension with a response of harsh words.

In our nation right now, we need more people who respond to social media posts with a gentle answer. The bitter anger in our country right now is palatable. The tone of dialogue is pulling folks down. We need more gentle answers from God's people right now.

While we cannot stop or resolve all angry exchanges in which we find ourselves, we can seek a gentle answer!


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