“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15: 1-4
To the Loud, Proud, and Larger than life,
I don’t know about you, but our family is loud and crazy and passionate and there isn’t a single one of us that lean towards having soft answers. When one of the twins get angry, their natural tendency is to yell and scream. And although Jude is only 17 months old, he too is just as loud as his sisters when he wants something.
And let’s just be real here, our kiddos come by it honestly. They have two parents with large personalities, strong opinions, and it’s rarely quiet around our dinner table. And when conflict arises, our tendency is to get louder and harsher, not softer. So this summer our family verse has been Proverbs 15:1-2.
Y’all, I have been convicted over and over and over again about having a harsh tongue, but what I love about Scripture is that it doesn’t leave us beaten up for our bad habits, rather it points us to life-giving truths that change us deep within.
So today I’m writing to you, the loud-mouth, the girl who always wants a say, the mother who loses her cool with her kids and husband and parents. I’m writing to the person who can craft words that wound instead of using that gift to craft words for life. You might blame your tongue on personality, but Scripture says otherwise; in Christ, you can bridle that tongue and use it for Kingdom purposes (James 3).
And the thing is, it is not only for His glory but for our good! Our good ole’ wise pal Solomon isn’t just leaving us high and dry. He’s not telling us to STOP, rather he is showing us the result of both options and how choosing to bridle our tongue is for the good of all. Look at the picture he paints.
In Proverbs 15 we see that a soft answer…
- turns away wrath
- commends/spreads knowledge
- is a tree of life
- quiets contention
- dwells among the wise
- listens to reproof
- is like good news that refreshes the bones
And a harsh answer is compared to folly which…
- stirs up anger
- pours out and feeds on folly
- breaks the spirit
- despises instruction
- stirs up strife
- produces pride
- pours out evil things
Sassy friends, I am with you. I have a sharp tongue and a lot of sass, and for many years I excused my tongue because of my personality, but looking back I can see the destruction in the wake of my words. And as I’ve grown, I can see how God has opened my eyes to my sin and produced glimpses of change.
Is my tendency still to speak before listening and to choose harshness over softness? Yes. But in Christ and through repentance I now sense the Spirit convicting me more frequently on my words and have seen slow and steady growth in this area.
My encouragement to you is this: take this proverb and memorize it. Let it seep into your soul and when you get angry or are provoked or annoyed, remember this verse and that it’s not just a “fix-it-Jesus” verse, but that it shows which way leads to life and which way leads to destruction. Practice using your words for wisdom and building and life-giving encouragement. And at the end of the day, even when you fail, repent and choose the way of life. Choose it over and over and over again. Let it change your heart, which changes your words, which change the people around you.
After all, if the greatest commandment is to love God and love each other, our tongues are great tools to practice that unconditional love. Let’s bridle our tongues and use them for the sake of love. Christ commands us, wisdom urges us, and our friends and family will be blessed by it.
Much love and sass to my loud, proud, and larger than life folks. I see you, I am with you, and I’m urging you to lay it all down for the sake of Christ.