WHO’S STIRRING UP THE STRIFE AROUND YOU?

January 15, 2024

WHO’S STIRRING UP THE STRIFE AROUND YOU?

 

Are people around you angry? Contentious? Is there continual arguing in your home or relationships or work that you hate? Frustrating, isn't it?

Have you considered the possibility that it may not be them but you that is causing this agitation?

STIRRING IT UP

Proverbs is filled with instructions and observations about our speech. Chapter 15 gives great insight about what our harsh, unfiltered responses can incite in those around us … and shows us a powerful antidote.

RESPOND GENTLY, NOT HARSHLY

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

Notice the wise author is speaking about an “answer” to someone. How do we respond to what they do or say or ask?

If you want to stir up anger, respond with harsh words. The Hebrew word “harsh” means “painful, hurtful, hard.” This may describe the content of your response or the tone of what you say. Harsh words will become an agitator that incites anger in others. Granted, we can lay the blame on what they did or said … but that solves nothing. We will still live in turmoil.

But if we really want to see a substantive change in the atmosphere, we will wisely realize our harshness in responding is just adding more fuel to the fire. We will choose to respond with a gentle, kind answer; with words not intended to cut others but to help; not to hurt them, but to heal them.

RESPOND SLOWLY, NOT QUICKLY

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute (Proverbs 15:18).

“He’s got a short fuse,” we say of some people. In other words, it doesn’t take much for them to respond angrily. Their quick anger creates conflict in the home, relationship, work, or church.

But the wise man is “slow to anger.” They have learned to pause before they respond. To pray and evaluate their response before it’s given. If you want to make matters worse, speak with no thought of calming things but reply with a response that just vents your anger. But if you long for peace, slow down.

RESPOND THOUGHTFULLY, NOT MINDLESSLY

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things (Proverbs 15:28).

If we want to live in turmoil then we should just say every single thing that comes into our heads immediately. Don’t think, just let ‘er rip.

“Well, it’s true!” is a foolish man’s justification for words coming from his mouth, hurting others and adding to the conflict. Our words can be accurate but wrong. Wrong timing. Wrong spirit. Wrong intent. And we will always get the wrong results.

“Pondering” is not a bad idea. It’s what wise people do. They think (and pray) before they speak. They aren’t so proud that they feel they must interrupt others to correct or give their “better” idea. They treat those around them as people, not objects, by giving them the benefit of the doubt and listening and waiting before responding.

Notice that the wise writer speaks of the source of the problem. “The HEART of the righteous ponders how to answer.” Angry, hot-tempered responses are always from the heart. Jesus reminds us of this when he states this fact:

“The things that proceed from the mouth come from the heart.” (Matthew 15:18)

If you constantly speak with harsh, angry words and really want to know the problem, don’t look at others. Just look about twelve inches below your mouth. You have a heart problem. It’s some harbored hurt or unforgiveness that has lodged there and been undealt with spiritually and biblically. Ask God to show you the root of the problem and apply the surefire antidote of forgiveness. It can dramatically change a heart, which controls a mouth.

THE JOY OF WISE RESPONSES

“How delightful is a timely word.” (Proverbs 15:23)

What if your words today brought delight to those around you? What if they were so wise and well-timed that they didn’t agitate others but blessed, encouraged, and helped them?

“If she would just quit …” may be your proud justification for the quarreling that happens. But it takes two. If you want to live in turmoil, keep blurting out your responses with no thought, consideration, prayer, or love.

But if you want to calm it down, pause and let the Spirit of God direct every word that comes from your mouth. You (and they) will be delighted with the results.

 





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