Proverbs 15:1

An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
Charles Bridges

"A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger."

What a mine of practical wisdom is this Book of God! Let us ponder this valuable rule for self-discipline, family peace, and Church unity. Scripture often illustrates the different effects of the tongue. The soft answer is the water to quench, as grievous words are the oil to stir up, the fire. And this is, alas, man's natural propensity--to feed rather than to quench the angry flame.

We yield to irritation, retort upon our neighbor, have recourse to self-justification, insist upon the last word, say all that we could say, and think we "do well to be angry" (Jonah 4:9). Neither party gives up an atom of the will. Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints; and "behold! how great a matter a little fire kindles!" (Jam. 3:5.) Thus there is the self-pleasing sarcasm, as if we had rather lose a friend than miss a clever stroke.

All this the world excuses as a sensitive and lively temper. But the gospel sets before us our Savior's example, imbues us with his spirit, and imparts that blessed love which is not easily provoked; and therefore is careful not to provoke a chafed or wounded spirit.

If others begin, let us forbear from continuing the strife. "Patience is the true peace-maker," says Bishop Sanderson. Soft and healing words gain a double victory--over ourselves and our brother.

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