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THE POWER OF A SOFT ANSWER
‘A soft answer turneth away wrath.’
I. It is a very hard thing to live though a month without being unkind or angry.—Calm and sweet tempers are rare; and perhaps we may say, without disparaging their value or their beauty, that it is not to these to which we naturally look for the most conspicuous services in the cause of God. Their province is to heal, to calm, to sweeten life; but perhaps it is in more fiery—yes, and more turbulent natures, that we must expect the initiative in works of good.
II. ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath.’—Some provocation is presupposed; some one has, or fancies he has, a grievance. Such grievances must arise in our common life. In this sense, ‘it must be that offences come.’ What an opening there is here for our putting in practice Solomon’s wise and truly Christian proverb: ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath.’
III. If there be such happiness in a soft answer, how is it that it is so hard to give it?—There is one great obstacle to which all others may be reduced—the obstacle of pride. When harsh words are addressed to us which we feel to be unmerited, we cannot bring ourselves to forgo the delight of a successful retort, still less can we bear to admit that any part of the wrong is of our doing. Pride disguises itself very cunningly, so that even a high-minded Christian is misled by its craft.
IV. Remember the blessing pronounced on the peacemakers.—No man ever repented the endeavour to rekindle ‘quietness, peace, and love’ among friends who ought never to have been parted.
—Rev. Dr. H. M. Butler.
‘This is the chapter of passionate temper; it speaks of the grievous word that stirs up anger ( Proverbs 15:1), of the perverseness that breaks the spirit ( Proverbs 15:4), of the contention stirred up by wrath ( Proverbs 15:18). However peaceful a family or community may be, it is remarkable how soon a conflagration will break out if a man of a quarrelsome and contentious spirit is introduced. The passionate man is often led to say and do things which, in his sober mind, he bitterly regrets. Let us keep clear of people of passionate dispositions, and give them a wide berth, asking the Lord to give us meek and quiet spirits, which act strongly and decisively on occasions when wrong is being perpetrated, but without the heat of selfish passion.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Proverbs 15". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany