A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly. Proverbs 15:1-2
As I read this Proverb I am reminded about the things in my immediate and extended family that cause the most “heated” conversations. Can you guess? Yes, religious and political talk can cause voices to increase in volume. I am usually in favor of a change of subject. I don’t mind debate but when emotions get involved the hair on the back of my neck tends to stand up. I have heard foolish things said to me in the heat of the moment and then I have replied with another foolish statement. I think of the words that come out with a hint or more of sarcasm, which leads me to think of the words I use that are less then kind, and the words that simply cut like a knife. Round and round it goes. If we all were really honest we would admit that little, if any, thought goes in before our words come out.
While we are familiar with the fact that the little muscle in our mouths called a tongue is hard to control it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask for the Lord’s help to change. Change and growth in this area are possible. Many of us, before coming to Christ, may have struggled with needing a bar of soap in our mouths or one of those cute jars for a quarter when caught saying a few choice words. In some way, with God’s help and His spirit, we broke those habits. But, why have we stopped there? Have we taken the time to train our tongues to be truthful, kind, loving, and wise? I have come a long way but there is still more road to cover in front of me.
Continuing on Proverbs 15 I came to verse 23, “A man has joy in an apt answer; and how delightful is a timely word.” This is my prayer and my challenge- “Lord, give me soft words full of wisdom that I will find joy in the answers I have given and that my words will be timely to those I speak to.”
Here’s the thing about words we all know – you never get to take them back. Speaking in the right manner, with the right tone and with godly wisdom will allow us not to have to eat them later.
Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and teaches a Bible Study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.