“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Words can hurt, humiliate and anger; or they can encourage, soothe and inspire. Our words should be used carefully because they can make or break a relationship. Once spoken, they can’t be called back or changed.
I thought I would tell you a true story about how someone I know used his words wisely. His name is Gary. He and his family moved from Kansas to Maryland and began attending our church. Our daughters became friends with his daughters, and soon our families were spending a good deal of time together.
After they had been in Maryland for a while, Gary and his family moved to a house that was divided into two apartments. The first day they lived there, Gary saw his new neighbor drive up, so he went out to introduce himself. Well, imagine his surprise when the first words out of this fellow’s mouth were curses, and his basic message was “leave me alone, I have no interest in you!” How would you respond to that? I’m pretty sure I would just cringe and creep away, hoping to avoid this person forever! I think plenty of other people would be angry and tell that jerk exactly what they thought of his rude behavior. Neither response would lead to any kind of neighborly relationship at all.
Can you guess what Gary said? “Gee, you must have had an awful day to be acting like this.” He and his neighbor actually became friends, or at least friendly. His gentle and caring answer turned away wrath. This situation taught me a lot about the power of words and the value not speaking impulsively (of course, I don’t always manage to do it.)
Here’s something the Bible says about our speech:
“I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37
That’s a pretty sobering thought. You can not only end a relationship with harsh words, you can help someone out and at the same time put them down and criticize them. Do you love others with your words as well as your deeds?