A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Harsh speech only breeds resentment and stirs up anger. Indeed, the harsh word will stir up anger where there is peace. Many Christians are guilty of stirring up anger both within the Christian community and outside it, because of the harsh manner in which they speak. It is not enough to value truth; one must value speaking the truth in love. It is not enough to have wisdom to know the answer; one must have the wisdom to know how to communicate the answer.
One can stir up anger by speaking the truth, as did Jesus. But most of us are guilty not of speaking the truth as needed, but of merely getting things off our chest or of wanting to put others down. Our zeal for striking a blow for truth is more motivated by our desire to strike a blow for our egos. We desire, not so much to win someone over to our side, as to shame that person.
If our goal is the welfare of our neighbor, if our motivation is love for our neighbor, we will speak wisely. Begin today, praying for the welfare of your neighbor; pray that your speech will be controlled by your love for God and your neighbor. The best word you speak today may be your prayer to God to control your speech for his honor and your neighbor’s good.
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