Tenderness Tapers Tempers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG)

A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, VOICE)

This is always a good reminder, as opportunities to gently reply are abundant, particularly when we want to respond in hurt or anger. No truer words have been penned, as when we respond in anger or with harsh or sarcastic words, it only inflames the situation. However, when we pause, take a deep breath, and respond with kindness and gentleness, there is a softening in the exchange that could have gone terribly wrong. We never know what has led to an interaction that begins poorly, yet we can control how we reply. Each time that I have caught myself and checked my heart to answer as I am called to do, I see tangible evidence of God’s love working on my behalf, as tension lessens and calm comes. It seems that one of the most difficult spaces to respond gently is on the road. There is something in many of us that rises up when other drivers make foolish maneuvers. Years ago, I had a great friend who would yell out, “Bless you, in Jesus’ Name! Or Jesus loves you!” whenever another driver would cut him off or jeopardize his safety. It may seem silly, but every time, it has the power to transform the mindset of anger and frustration, and causes a pause that allows for the brain to catch up to the heart to adjust enough to recognize that we all make mistakes and grace goes a long way. This mindset really is transformative in all situations and circumstances. Though it may not be opportune to always yell out a blessing, it is always useful and beneficial to pause and seek to see others through God’s lens. As we do, grace is abundant and good is given. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to respond gently, and to grant a heart check when we are determined to do otherwise.

A tender reply,

Brings grace where it’s not;

Defuses the fire,

When tempers are hot.

An unkind response,

Only provokes rage;

Yet true gentleness,

Shows others the way.

The way to give love,

Despite what we feel;

God’s kindness breathes life,

Makes His goodness real.

Lord, help us rise up,

Seek to always love;

To respond like You,

Our Father above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to respond gently, despite what we are given. Thank You that gentleness brings a calm where rage was rising. Forgive us for the times that we have responded in anger rather than with grace. Teach us to rely on You to show us how to respond with tenderness. Show us how to love those around us, even when love is far from what we desire to extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the gentleness and grace that You have waiting no matter the condition in which they come to You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to respond to others with tenderness and grace, extending Your love and kindness to the seemingly least deserving. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. – Proverbs 10:12

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