SOFT ANSWER, DOUBLE VICTORY

Peacemaking Wisdom from Proverbs

Recently I’ve returned to a helpful practice I learned early on in my spiritual journey. Each morning I read a chapter of the book of Proverbs for that day of the month.

This time around I’m observing just how many verses contain valuable peacemaking insights. When I come across such verses, I often consult my favorite commentary on Proverbs by Charles Bridges.

Two days ago I paused on verse one of chapter 15:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Bridges’ thoughts make for a worthwhile read:

WHAT a mine of practical wisdom is this Book of God! Let us ponder this valuable rule for self-discipline, family peace, and Church unity. Scripture often illustrates the different effects of the tongue. The soft answer is the water to quench–Grievous words are the oil to stir up, the fire. And this is, alas! man’s natural propensity, to feed rather than to quench, the angry flame. We yield to irritation; retort upon our neighbour; have recourse to self-justification; insist upon the last word; say all that we could say; and think we “do well to be angry.” (Jonah iv. 9.) Neither party gives up an atom of the will. Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints; and “behold! how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”  (Jam. iii. 5.) Thus there is the self-pleasing sarcasm; as if we had rather lose a friend, than miss a clever stroke. All this the world excuses as a sensitive and lively temper. But the gospel sets before us our Saviour’s example; imbues with his spirit; and imparts that blessed “charity, that is not easily provoked;” and therefore is careful not to provoke a chafed or wounded spirit. If others begin, let us forbear from continuing the strife. ‘Patience is the true peace-maker.’ Soft and healing words gain a double victory—over ourselves and our brother.

Two for the price of one. You can’t beat that.

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