As I have experienced more in my old age, I have found that causing harm in any form is something that should almost always be avoided. What does causing harm usually lead to? More harm. If you can approach a situation in one or two ways, either harshly or gently, the choice should be obvious. How many times did you hear Jesus use harsh words in the Bible? Now compare it to your own life.
And we pray:
Forgive me, Father, for I am so far from perfect. Like the prodigal son, I have wasted so much of Your knowledge on trivial pursuits, and have often caused pain to others. Lord, I beg that You help me realize when I cause harm to others so that I can quickly apologize for my misdeeds. Help me carefully choose the words that I say so that others will be comforted rather than angered by my speech. Amen.
If someone is angry with you, if they are wrathful towards you, the difficult thing is to refuse to return malice for malice, wrath for wrath, but doing so is crucial if you want to “turn away wrath.” A gentle answer will remove all the fuel from the fire of anger. But the natural inclination of the average person is to return a harsh word. Even if someone is not already angry, a harsh word can cause them to become so.
The question remains, how does one become the sort of person who can give a gentle answer in the face of wrath, or abstain from hurling out the harsh word that feels so natural? The key is to be supernatural, or spiritual, rather than natural. The natural man cannot help but return evil for evil, but the spiritual man doesn’t trade that way. For the spiritual man, or the one who is in Christ, there is no need. Wrathful words pose no threat to the man or woman who has been saved by grace, forgiven by God, redeemed and justified, and walks by the Holy Spirit. This is the one who obeys Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:38-40). This is the man or woman who lives in freedom because of who God is, what he has done sending Christ to die, and who it means that we are. Walk in Christ and give a gentle answer in the face of anger and wrath.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Proverbs 15:1
#1 “A gentle answer…”
These are gentle and understanding words, given in a gentle and understanding tone. This is best done not by self-control, but by true freedom from anger obtained by deep integration of the truth of the gospel.
#2 “…turns away wrath,”
It is a rare person who will stay in their rage in the face of humble gentleness.
#3 “but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
A person who is not angry can quickly become so when given a harsh word. A harsh word can be a powerful trigger to defensiveness and rash impulses. When the person is already angry, a harsh word will be like gasoline thrown on an already blazing fire.