“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
I was in a public space, chatting with several people I did not know. Initially, they were friendly with me and each other. Then one of them made a comment about covid vaccines. The other responded with a snide remark. The first escalated with an insult. Suddenly, they were yelling insults and obscenities at one another. I tried to intervene, without success.
“A harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1b). We have all fallen into this, even if not as dramatically as the two people above. Someone tells you to stop chewing with your mouth open. Annoyed, you tell her to leave the room if she doesn’t like it. She calls you a slob. You call her a control-freak. Soon, the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ get used and a host of past grievances surface.
However, “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1a). This truth is so wise and so simple, yet so easily goes out the window when we get angry. When someone’s words leave you irritated or defensive, pause and count to ten. Use that time to pray briefly and silently for wisdom, grace and self-control. That prayerful pause increases the likelihood that your response will defuse anger.
Consider King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. His subjects approached him, exasperated by high taxes. His father’s advisors recommended a soft answer that would have turned away their wrath. His peers, however, advised him to respond harshly. This escalated into a full-blown rebellion that split the nation.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for the love and wisdom necessary to turn away wrath rather than to stir up anger.
Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.