Obviously people don’t check with you before they say things. But you have a great deal of influence over the course of each interaction in your life. Several times throughout the day you will have the opportunity to respond to difficult words in a peaceful manner or in an abrasive fashion. Often times it will be your response that sets the tone for the relationship. So while each word matters in a conversation, in a real sense, it is not the initial expression that is the most important, but the response.
One of the wise sayings found in the Bible goes like this…
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
One of the most difficult things in life is hearing something you don’t want to hear, whether it is a suggestion you don’t like, or a difficult responsibility you are given, or an offensive statement you want to smack down. These unwanted words can come from people you love, those you work for, or complete strangers. It is not hard for a conversation to go from mild to crazy in .06 seconds.
But you will be amazed at how much better things can go if you take just a couple of seconds and think about this directive from Scripture. It has been said, “If you have to think twice about saying something… don’t.” Sometimes all it takes is asking yourself, “If I come back with this harsh zinger, will it make my life better or worse? Will this smackdown comeback make me feel good for 5 minutes… or 5 years?”
Sometimes we say stuff we live to regret. And we spend the next portion of our life wishing we had said something better… nicer. You will be amazed at how much grace you receive when you answer in grace. You probably already know how much wrath you receive when you respond with harsh words. Our words are like factories. They build our future. Today you get to construct your relationships. Choose your words wisely. You only get to create them before they exit your mouth.
So what will it be today… peace, or anger? Your next words will determine that.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.