Daily Devotionals

Would You Rather? Week 3 Monday

 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1

The Bible teaches us a lot about words. One of the most poignant teachings found in Scripture is that words have power. Proverbs teaches us that our words are so powerful that they “can bring death or life” (Proverbs 18:21). This is not the only place we read about the power of our words in Scripture. The writer of the book of James tells us that the tongue is a small part of the body, but it is like a small rudder that steers a high ship (James 3). The point is, our words are entirely more powerful than we often realize. We get to choose how we will use these powerful words. We can use them harshly and unkindly, or we can be gentle with our words. The incredible truth is when we choose gentleness, the gentle words we use actually have the power to turn away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

Proverbs 15:1 teaches us just how powerful our words are. The verse says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” What does this mean? When we respond to people with gentleness instead of anger, we can defuse the situation. In fact, when someone speaks angry words to us or is looking to begin an argument with us, a gentle response has the power to lower the temperature. This may not sound like much, but you know from experience that when a person is heated, there is not much that will quell that rage and anger. When we respond calmly without anger, our words can bring life and healing into the conversation.

Not only can gentleness deflect anger, but the opposite is also true. Harsh words can make a heated situation progressively worse. A small spark of anger can flame into a large fire that quickly becomes out of control. Right now, as I write, I am praying as devastating fires are raging in California. These fires are a reminder of just how quickly a flame can get out of control. In the same ways, our angry words can quickly evolve into a raging fire. 

We have two options today. We can choose gentleness or choose anger and harsh words as we respond to the people around us. Only one of those options can quell anger and heated conversations and bring the peace of God to tense conversations and situations. Choose today to be gentle.

Moving Toward Action

If we want to be gentle with our words, we must first develop the conviction to be gentle people. One of the ways we can do this is by meditating on verses like Proverbs 15:1. Write this verse out a few times on a sheet of paper, or create a screen saver on your phone. Decide today to be a person who responds with kindness and gentleness. It might just save your marriage, friendship, job, family, and so much more!

Going Deeper

Read Proverbs 15:1-33 (NLT)

A gentle answer deflects anger,
    but harsh words make tempers flare.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
    but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

The Lord is watching everywhere,
    keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

Gentle words are a tree of life;
    a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline;
    whoever learns from correction is wise.

There is treasure in the house of the godly,
    but the earnings of the wicked bring trouble.

The lips of the wise give good advice;
    the heart of a fool has none to give.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
    but he loves those who pursue godliness.

Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined;
    whoever hates correction will die.

Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
    How much more does he know the human heart!

Mockers hate to be corrected,
    so they stay away from the wise.

A glad heart makes a happy face;
    a broken heart crushes the spirit.

A wise person is hungry for knowledge,
    while the fool feeds on trash.

For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
    for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
    than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.

A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
    is better than steak with someone you hate.

A hot-tempered person starts fights;
    a cool-tempered person stops them.

A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,
    but the path of the upright is an open highway.

Sensible children bring joy to their father;
    foolish children despise their mother.

Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense;
    a sensible person stays on the right path.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
    many advisers bring success.

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
    it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The path of life leads upward for the wise;
    they leave the grave behind.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
    but he protects the property of widows.

The Lord detests evil plans,
    but he delights in pure words.

Greed brings grief to the whole family,
    but those who hate bribes will live.

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
    the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

The Lord is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayers of the righteous.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
    good news makes for good health.

If you listen to constructive criticism,
    you will be at home among the wise.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
    but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
    humility precedes honor.