A gentle response turns away anger,
but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
The tongue of the wise treats knowledge correctly,
but the mouth of the fool spouts out folly.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on those who are evil and those who are good.
Have you ever been in a situation and seen it escalate more and more as time goes by? I have. I’ve been in meetings. In churches. Plural. One person gets upset about something, then someone responds with a little more angst. Another responds with even more, before you know it – Mabel and Mildred are in an all out verbal assault against each other’s poor choice of quilting fabric. Watch out folks, some blue hair is likely to fly.
Tension is always difficult to navigate. And we aren’t advised to navigate away from it. We are advised with how to deal with it correctly. The way we respond is important, but it is also important that we respond. We can be gentle without being doormats. We can be gentle and be firm at the same time.
But, if we respond harshly, all we will do is turn up thermostat up the a pre-hades sauna setting. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge correctly, while the mouth of the fool spouts it out in ways that cause and escalate tension. The tongue of the wise is backed up by the wisdom and knowledge and understanding. The tongue of the wise has made a lifelong pursuit of learning about wisdom and her ways. That way, when the wise person speaks, it ought to be saturated with wisdom and understanding.
When a fool speaks, he spouts off folly. Fools don’t think before they speak, they just react. Sometimes they realize mid-sentence that are about to rip the scab off of Mrs. Vesuvius. Sometimes, the don’t even realize they’ve said anything wrong.
So, at your next church business meeting when Beatrice stands up to fight against the pastor, the sunday school teacher or that your church is holier because you have pews and not heathenistic chairs, find a way to respond to her gently – using the knowledge you have been given. Don’t respond gently but without thinking. Think carefully about your response, and the respond.