Gentle Answers and Harsh Words

confused-by-creditThere was a time in my life when I suffered from a severe speech impediment, but I slowly overcame it when I quit sticking my foot in my mouth.

Foot-in-your-mouth-itis must have been a common affliction in New Testament times because it was a large focus of the book of James:

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body. ~James 3:2

Other than the book of Proverbs, you’ll find more about the tongue and communication in James than anywhere else in the Bible.  James is full of practical principles for life.  Here’s two of them:

  • The tongue is the index of the heart. What you say reveals what is hidden deep down inside of your heart.
  • Your emotions act as a barometer and reveal your level of maturity. When people get angry, they stumble in many ways and often say things they later regret.

Thanks to James, I’ve noticed three patterns of communication that are characteristic of most people:

  • Some people implode. When they get angry, they say very little, withdraw, and hold everything in.
  • Other people explode with salty language, and they let everything out. These people can be as volatile as the Iran nuclear deal..
  • There’s a third pattern in which a person reloads and wises up. James describes this person in the words below:

Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness . . . the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.  ~James 3:13-18

Which pattern defines you.  Do you implode, explode, or reload?   You may see your pattern in these wise words from Solomon?

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.

~Proverbs 15:1-2

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