September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”—Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
Whether you know the Bible inside and out or you’re just beginning to read it more for yourself, this proverb is probably something you’ve heard before. Proverbs is normally filled with statements of wisdom that even those who don’t follow Jesus would abide by or agree with for the most part. This is because the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs is often common and proved to be true in the everyday world. In today’s Scripture, the wisdom offered relates to how we communicate with other people. The advice is that gentle answers will not provoke wrath whereas harsh words often stir up anger.
We can see this to be true in our own lives. I saw this Scripture come to life once when I had to help mediate a conflict between four girls who were living together in my hall. As a resident assistant at a university, you usually are the first point of contact when there’s an issue. A resident of mine came to me with concerns about their suitemate, which is the person they share a bathroom with. There had been a few previous interactions between these girls where they communicated using rude and disrespectful language. In our meeting together, all of the anger was uncovered as they tried to justify themselves to each other.
Long story short, I had to point out to both of them that the way in which they said their words is what communicated the disrespect. Although some of the things they were saying to one another didn’t necessarily sound rude if read off a paper, it was the way in which it was said that brought about the anger. I wanted to share this story because I think we often forget that our nonverbal communication speaks just as loud, and sometimes even louder, than our actual verbal communication. This is important to recognize when considering the fruit of gentleness because gentleness often is displayed in the way we act towards each other. When we give someone a gentle answer, it doesn’t mean it should be sugar coated or a straight up lie, it just means that we answer with humility, non-judgement, and compassion.
When you think about gentleness, I want you to think about someone being nurturing and steady. These two qualities are ideally found in our parents. The example of parents who truly care for their children will always involve the example of them disciplining their children as well. They nurture them and also remain steady in truth and in their rules for them. This combination of nurturing and being steady is what gentleness is all about. If we ask God to help us grow in these areas, He will give us opportunities to practice being gentle with those around us.
If you find yourself in any interpersonal interaction, you’ll probably find the opportunity to practice gentleness. Although it doesn’t come as easily to some as it may for others, that is what makes the fruit of the Spirit so important. We must cultivate them by daily rooting ourselves in Scripture, prayer, and worship. We must allow the Holy Spirit to grow the fruit within us for the purpose of glorifying Him with how we treat others!
Pause: Have you ever considered the impact that your nonverbal behavior could have on others? How does it relate to gentleness?
Practice: Today, take note of how you can be nurturing and steady to the people in your life. Make an effort to truly show gentleness in your interactions with those around you.
Pray: Father God, You are the most gentle being to exist. Thank You for treating me with care and kindness. You nurture, You’re steady, and You always love in truth! That is what gentleness is all about. So, I ask You to help those qualities to grow in me. Whatever I need to root out of my heart in order to become more gentle, may You show me. Thank You so much for Your abundant grace! May my life overflow with it. Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.