Proverbs 15:1 instructs us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Rehoboam’s pride and his trust in counselors no more wise or experienced than himself led him to escalate the tension rather than make peace. God’s Word tells us this was all from the Lord, to fulfill the prophecy spoken against the house of David.
I have opportunities every single day to either respond with pride, arrogance, bitterness, or harsh judgment or to offer humility, kindness, gentleness, and encouragement. I opt for the former way too much.
What a great reminder! I can’t think of a single example where a harsh answer produced anything more positive than a momentary sense of satisfaction. It has never improved relationships, solved a problem, built someone up, or even resolved a discipline or performance issue.
There is absolutely no good reason for responding in such a way—except that it makes us feel stronger by making the other person feel weaker.
Isn’t that the definition of bullying?
Schools these days proclaim a zero tolerance policy for bullying, which I applaud, although I think it is often easier said than done. Rather than just outlawing bullying, what if we taught children how to respond in kindness? What if we modeled strategies for collaboration and cooperation rather than demonstrating that power and oppression are the most effective ways to achieve our goals?
Lord, I confess that I often speak in anger and frustration, rather than thoughtfully considering how to use my words to resolve conflict. I thank You for promising that You have given us everything we need for life and godliness, and that includes giving us Your Holy Spirit to enable us to respond well. Father, may I not quench the Spirit today, but be easily guided by Your gentle hand. May you be glorified because my response is unexpectedly kind, surprisingly generous, and overwhelmingly loving.