Tuesday, April 17, 2018
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
On June 6, 1966, civil rights leader James Meredith was shot dead in Hernando, Mississippi. Hearing the news in far off New York, a man named Sydney Street took to the street with Old Glory—which he publicly set afire, shouting, “we don’t need an American flag.” As the saying goes, “them’s fightin’ words” —and sure enough, Sydney Street was arrested for disturbing the public peace: a harsh word stirs up anger.
But a soft answer turns away wrath. The word for wrath is different than the word for anger in this verse. The harsh word is insulting, accusing, condemning, or maybe just insensitive. It stirs up anger—ordinary, everyday, garden-variety anger. But the soft answer softens wrath (Heb., chēmah)—fiery rage, burning anger, fury. (The word chēmah is sometimes used for “fever” or “venom” as well!) A thoughtless remark can touch off anger, but (thanks be to God!) gracious words cool the fiercest fury!
How do your words affect people? Do they create conflict unnecessarily? Or do they bring calm even in tense situations? Do you need to apologize for a hurtful word? Or defuse anger with a helpful word? How can a growing relationship with Christ change the effect of your words? Today?
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s day. Pray with the Psalmist: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
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