A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15: 4
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
You ever have one of those days where no matter what you do you just feel grumpy? Yesterday was a day like that for me. The day started well with everyone getting up and enjoying a nice worship service without really any tension at all, but sometime after church my mood went foul. To be honest, I think there are several things going on in my life that I have not fully given over to the Lord and that it is the stress that I am feeling trying to deal with these things in my own strength that took me to the place where I was after church yesterday. To make this story as concise as possible let’s just say my mood didn’t stay self contained for long and much of the afternoon was tense around my house as I found ways to argue with my wife and be as about as unChrist-like as possible. I said things I didn’t mean and caused hurt that will require healing while fully embracing the foulness of my mood.
Ironically, Proverbs 15 was on my daily reading plan for yesterday, but I didn’t get to it until today. It really would have been a good chapter to meditate on. Today’s verses highlight the idea that wisdom is not found in lashing out in anger but rather in staying cool in times of tension. Verse 4 is especially telling because it illustrates well what effect our words can have on other people. How many us set out in an argument to break the spirit of the one we argue with? Sometimes in trying to cope with the pain we are feeling in our own broken and fragile spirit we forget that those who surround us are equally broken and fragile. In our own self absorption, we lose sight that we have have the power to diffuse tension or to really ramp it up. These verses are teaching us that we do in every moment have a choice and that choice should be to diffuse tension.
So what is the take away? For me it is a challenge to remember that in every moment of my life there exists a forked road. One fork is the path to Jesus and the other fork is the path that leads to my sin nature. It seems like the sin nature path is lined with attractive billboards that encourages me to look out for and serve myself first and foremost before anyone else. On the path that leads to Jesus all there is Jesus. What I forget sometimes is that Jesus is all I need. I forget that as I walk toward Him that I will become like Him and that the foulness of my mood will be transformed by His love and grace. I forget that to truly love and serve those around my I have to quit trying to love and serve myself. I spent some time last evening apologizing and asking for forgiveness and probably need to do some more today. I am challenged this morning to focus most on Jesus and to better reflect what I see.
Heavenly Father, thank you for fresh mercies and your goodness. Father forgive me today for losing focus sometimes. Forgive me for moments where I am not slow to anger. Forgive me for hurting those I love instead of serving them. Father I pray that you would release healing to those who are hurting and comfort those who are distressed. Thank you for your love and kindness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.