“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
This verse is small in size, yet so powerful. We were studying the book of Proverbs in Bible class this morning, and these words just hit me. Proverbs 15:1 is just as effective and applicable to our lives as it was to the ancient nation of Israel. It means that whenever a disagreement comes up, keeping your calm is key to having a civil conversation. If you lose your temper, you and the other person will both leave with blood boiling. This is true in many instances. As a middle school teacher, I see it every day. You allow yourself to argue with a student with your emotions involved, the argument will not end well. However, replying calmly to just about any negative situation will at least keep your emotions in check and hinder you from saying something you might regret.
Many times, God would not have us handle situations in an angry manner as we are supposed to be meek. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Meekness is a great attribute to have, clearly. Meek, according to trusty Dictionary.com, is “humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.” In the school setting, this is quite evident. Students are always trying to push your buttons, but answering and talking calmly, softly even, will help keep tempers under control. This is true in all situations - not just the school setting. However, neither of those verses demand that one stay out of conflict. If you firmly believe in the word of God, you will defend it when it is attacked. If you know something is right, you are allowed to defend your beliefs. It is pertinent that Christians teach the Word and gospel to those who are lost so that they might repent and be baptized (Mark 16:15 -16). This will not go well with everyone, so arguments will arise. Christians must be meek in their approach.
This is all not to say that becoming angry is a sin. It depends on how you handle your anger and why you are angry. There is also a difference between anger and loosing your temper. Letting your anger get the best of you will not end with you feeling any better about the situation - believe me! Jesus became angry with those who were using the temple to make profit in the Bible. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13). Was Jesus angry? Yes. Did He lose His temper? No. Yes, he flipped the tables and seats over. Yes, he spoke authoritatively. However, He did not start punching people, use foul language, or burn bridges between Him and the people present. He was trying to teach them something, and He was completely in control.
Will overturning your neighbor’s table bring them to obey the gospel? It might. That action might be the one thing that finally wakes them up out of their sin. If that’s the case, you flip those tables! At that point, you should know them well enough that you know what they’re reaction would be and that they know you did it out of love. However, if that neighbor is anything like me, getting angry at them won’t accomplish anything. This is why the first point would be a more effective approach - giving a soft answer.
This is one thing that some Christians miss today. When conflict arises, it’s “Run out with your guns blazing!” No. Don’t do that. While reacting in anger might get people’s attention, your harsh words will only make people angry. They’re not going to listen to a word you say - just tune you out. Personally, I would as I don’t have time for someone to belittle me. Everyone is like this - we’re human! Therefore, always try and talk to someone with love and meekness.
For all Biblical references, I used the English Standard Version.
“Meek.” Dictionary.com. Web. 28 June 2015.